Carnival Cruise Accidents: Should You Be Concerned?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Whether you are a frequent cruise traveler or you are just preparing for your maiden voyage, if you have been watching the news lately, then you may already be aware of the frequent accidents that have taken place aboard Carnival Cruise Lines. It is concerning for a variety of reasons, which is why we are here to help explain the current situation and offer you some insight into what you can do to keep you and your family safer when you set out on a Carnival cruise. However, in order to understand what you are up against, we have to start by understanding the current environment causing carnival cruise accidents.

The Tragic Reality of Carnival Cruise Ship Accidents

The U.S. Department of Transportation compiles cruise accident statistics every quarter, in accordance with the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. The Act requires the reporting of any criminal act committed at sea to the FBI. Although this report is by no means perfect–we are well aware that many incidents go unreported for a variety of reasons –it can offer us a general idea of quarterly trends in criminal activity at sea.

From January 1 to March 31, 2017, Carnival had 10 counts of criminal activity, the largest number of all of the ships included in the report. The listed crimes included seven allegations of sexual assault, one allegation of serious assault with bodily injury and two reports of missing U.S. nationals. From April 1 to June 30, 2017, the incidents increased as cruise season came into full swing. That quarter saw 11 allegations of sexual assault, four allegations of serious assault with bodily injury, and one missing U.S. National. From July 1 to September 30, 2017, the Carnival cruise accident statistics revealed 10 allegations of sexual assault and two accounts of serious assault with bodily injury.

The last published data on cruise crimes is from October 1 to December 31, 2017. In this report, once again Carnival Cruise Line had the highest number of alleged criminal activity. With eight reported counts. This is almost twice that of the next highest cruise line, Norwegian, which came in at five. Of those eight reported crimes, seven were of sexual assault and one was assault with serious bodily injury.

According to this data, Carnival has either the highest or the second highest number of reported crimes in each quarter. This could have multiple explanations. Carnival has the highest capacity of passengers and ships of the mayor Cruise Brands. It could also be that Carnival either does in fact have more incidents on their vessel’s that the other Lines, or that Carnival is more sensitive with regards to reporting potential crimes. Unfortunately, in situations such as this, it is difficult to pin point the real reasons.

While the last official report of data is from the end of 2017, since the start of the 2018, Carnival has not exactly been accident free. Within the first month of 2018, two serious accidents occurred. In the first, a female passenger died when she plummeted from her balcony and landed two floors below. This was the second death associated with falling from a Carnival deck in the past year–the first took place in early October of 2017, when an eight-year-old girl also fell to her death aboard a Carnival cruise.

The second of the initial Carnival cruise ship accidents of 2018 involved a female passenger who went missing after falling overboard while the ship was in the Gulf of Mexico. Sadly, just one year ago, a similar situation took place, when a male passenger was also lost in this manner. Despite a thorough search and rescue carried out by the Coast Guard, neither victim survived nor were their bodies recovered.

What Kinds of Accidents Are Possible?

Although falls and overboard accidents are the most sensational, and arguably, the kind that receive the most attention, it is important to remember that these are not the only types of accidents possible at sea.

The Department of Transportation has the following categories in their report: homicide, death (suspicious), missing U.S. national, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, firing or tampering with a vessel, theft greater than $10,000 and sexual assault. Although these categories do cover a wide range of criminal possibilities, this list just skims the surface.

In truth, the same dangers that exist at home are also present on a cruise ship. Despite the fact that the cruise industry would like you to believe that their vacations are free from the potential hazards of everyday life, the truth is that this is simply not the case. For this reason, it is important to keep your safety as your own first priority. The cruise line may or may not have your back if something goes wrong.

Carnival’s Response to Frequent Accidents

Given the fact that Carnival has experienced so much negative press lately, especially related to overboard accidents and deaths, you may feel as though the Carnival cruise accident statistics are not in your favor. It is only natural to feel this way, as the recent reports do not give much room for interpretation: cruising has potential risks and all cruise goers should keep that in mind. However, has Carnival done anything to mitigate these issues?

After the death of the 8-year-old girl last October, the company insisted that their deck railings do in fact meet safety guidelines. Nonetheless, we cannot help but to wonder when cruise lines will seek to not just meet guidelines, but also exceed them, especially when it is clear that the standards in place in fact, do not protect all passengers from harm.

Of course, in the wake of every serious accident at sea, Carnival expresses its condolences and assures the public that its CARE team is providing support for the family of the passengers involved. Responding after the fact is far easier than taking a proactive approach to improve safety and decrease the risk of having these serious accidents occur in the first place. However, is that good enough?  We hope that the company will take the time to evaluate its action plan and determine a more thorough method for improving safe conditions on their ships.

Can Carnival Cruise Accidents Be Prevented?

While it should not solely fall upon the passenger’s shoulders to prevent potential accidents from taking place, the truth is that it is better to keep an eye out for yourself and for your travel companions, than not to and then discover that you are on your own and the cruise line has no desire to help.

Because it can be easier to prevent an accident than to recover from one, here is what we recommend you do when you set out on your next cruise ship vacation with Carnival or any other cruise line:

Spend Time in Groups–One of the best ways to keep yourself safer is to spend your time in large groups. Doing so decreases the risk of sexual assault, and ensures that there are always multiple other eyes on the situation. This way if something were to go wrong, you would at least have witnesses to support your case.

Mind Your Drinks–For many people, going on a cruise is a time to let loose and just have fun. While we certainly do not encourage everyone to enjoy their cruise vacation, you should nonetheless keep in mind alcohol in excess tends encourage dangerous behavior that often leads to the type of situations you would be better off avoiding. Unfortunately, many cruise lines continue to serve passengers even after it is clear that they have had too much. Therefore, if you are planning to drink, know your limit, and make sure you have friends or family nearby who can also determine when it may be time to call it a night. Additionally keep an eye on your drinks to make sure no one adds anything to them when you are not looking and do not leave them unattended at the bar or anywhere else. A good rule of thumb is this. If you walk away from your drink when you come back toss that one and order a new one. It is better to be safe than to end of a victim.

Schedule Regular Check-Ins— Whether you are traveling with fellow adults, or with your entire family, regular check-ins is a great way to give everyone their own freedom, while also ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to speak up if something is amiss. Especially with your children, if you  give them the chance to explore the ship on their own, insists on a regular in person check-in. This should decrease the chance of them going missing for too long, thus reducing the risk of harm to them and increase your peace of mind.

Stay Alert–Ultimately, what it all comes down to is staying alert. While there is, no need to be fearful of going on a Carnival –or any other cruise for that matter–you should know the potential risks and have a plan in mind for how to maximize your potential for fun and minimize your potential for injury.

Hurt on a Carnival Cruise Ship? We Can Help

That said, even the most vigilant of individuals can find themselves the victim of an accident at sea. If this has happened to you or someone, you know; rest assured that we are here to help. Our experienced team of maritime lawyers is ready to help you face your legal burden head on, so that you can get back to living your life.

After all, an accident does not need to define the rest of your future. Therefore, when you are prepared to move forward and finally leave your accident behind you, we are here for you. Simply contact us today to get started.