Attacks Resume in Gaza; Cruise Passengers May Soon Need to Secure a Maritime Attorney if Ships Don’t Cease Port Calls

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Life saver Things are getting worse in the Middle East, and this could spell trouble for cruise lines. As the conflict between Israel and Palestine over the Gaza Strip continues to escalate, we’re left to wonder when – and even if – cruise lines are going to start pulling their ships out of the area and cease all port calls. With unexpected militia attacks and violent outbreaks among civilians, cruise travelers may get caught up in the turmoil and suffer disastrous consequences.

A temporary cease-fire had many wondering if the nations would lead to peace, but after a three-day truce expired and a boarder deal brokered by Egypt hit a stalemate, Israel and militants from Gaza resumed action today. Sadly, a 10-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and two Israelis were injured from Palestinian rocket fire. We sincerely hope cruise lines will avoid even sailing near the warzone because they may very well get caught in the crossfire.

As required by maritime law, cruise lines have a responsibility to uphold the safety of all those on board their ships. This entails keeping ship equipment maintained and in optimal condition, ensuring ships are sanitary, providing sufficient onboard security, and, keeping away from areas of conflict. The cruise industry has already suffered in the face of accidents and crimes, including a number of sexual assaults, robberies and overboard accidents, and a devastating injury or the death of a passenger or crew member in connection to the Gaza Strip conflict would illicit mass outrage, the likes of which the cruise industry may never recover from.

The statistics on cruise ship accidents and crimes are horrific enough as it stands, especially given the discrepancy in cruise crime reporting, but if tragedy would strike because a cruise line refuses revenue loss following a port call cancellation, cruise lines will have a lot more to worry about than a maritime attorney breathing down their necks. This might just be the straw that will allow legislators to obtain full ability to regulate the cruise industry.

Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller has been fighting tooth and nail for increased regulation on the cruise industry, but while his efforts have been nothing short of valiant, the loopholes cruise lines have put in place have allowed them to evade the wrath of the U.S. government following an accident or crime on the high seas or in a foreign port. These loopholes are many, but the two major loopholes are 1) the fact that most major cruise lines are registered in foreign ports and 2) the fact that cruise passenger ticket contracts include disclaimers wherein the cruise lines attempt to wash their hands of any responsibility following an incident or accident aboard their ship.

How exactly do these loopholes shield the cruise lines? Find out more in our next blog.