Celebrity Cruises Raises the Bar on Amenities While Maritime Safety Continues to Go Unnoticed

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Cruise ship deckIn the wake of the tragic drowning of a 6-year-old boy on a Carnival Cruise Line ship this weekend, one would think the cruise industry would be working overtime to improve safety onboard vessels, especially by hiring lifeguards, but alas, safety is just yesterday’s news and the industry seems to keep focusing on more ways to make ships more exciting.

The cruise ship accident lawyers our firm have had enough excitement with the latest string of passenger deaths, injuries and illnesses and we would like to finally be able to say the industry is working toward a viable solution to the bevy of safety issues it has faced for several years, but breaking news isn’t the installation of infrared cameras to detect overboard passengers or greater surveillance options near ship pools, the last news comes from Celebrity Cruises, which proudly announces it is increasing its entertainment options.

We all know that cruise ships are fun, what we don’t know is when they will be safe. Accidents on the high seas and in port are becoming more frequent and it’s hard to believe Celebrity can focus on anything other than how to improve its safety policies. But, the cruise lines never ceases to amaze us, and with that, our attorneys have learned that the Royal Caribbean subsidiary is rolling out with a ton of new fun features for guests to enjoy, including new casino gaming options, which we mentioned in a previous blog, new itineraries and even new ships.

All of these upgrades are undoubtedly expensive, but so are cruise ship accident lawsuits. It’s about time the industry start preventing accidents from happening instead of undertaking damage control after the fact.

Let’s see where Celebrity’s funds are going instead of where they ought to go (obviously on more safety features).

Firstly, Celebrity is expanding its Solstice-class ships — its biggest and nicest — by upgrading other categories, adding Solstice amenities to make them more luxurious. So how much is this costing Celebrity? A whopping $120 million for just four ships: the Celebrity Constellation, the Celebrity Infinity, the Celebrity Summit and the Celebrity Millennium.

The upgrade included….drum roll please…a grass-covered, backyard-like Lawn Club, an outdoor glass-blowing studio called the Hot Glass Show, AquaSpa rooms featuring private balconies, a wider range of dining options (as if cruise ships didn’t have enough), and several others. Sure, this seems cool, but $120 million is a lot of money – money that could have been better spent on safety upgrades instead.

As our attorneys previously blogged about, Celebrity will also be introducing a new mobile casino gambling option. Guests who have smart phones or tablets will be able to download an app called Cantor Mobile Casino, which allows them to invest cash and play casino games like slots and poker anywhere onboard the ship as long as the vessel is in international waters.

The app can be accessed through the ship’s Wi-Fi, which we all know is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE. Internet access on the high seas can cost an arm and a leg no matter what cruise ship you are on. Celebrity has yet to announce whether Wi-Fi will be free for the virtual gamblers, but knowing the industry, it’s safe to assume there will be some fees involved.

Celebrity is also rolling out with a slew of new Caribbean itineraries, including port calls at St. Barts, St. Croix and San Juan.  This isn’t necessarily a waste of money, but still, the upgrade project could have been drastically cut down to focus on itinerary changes and safety add-ons and the cruise line would have STILL probably had money left over to add a few amenities.

Unfortunately, the number one concern for cruise lines seems to always be revenue. How much more money could the already multibillion-dollar industry want?

Ships already have a bunch of fun features for guests to enjoy, so it’s time to set aside those millions and allocate them toward safety projects.

Carnival, which has led the way in cruise ship accidents this year, announced last May it would be undergoing an expansive safety upgrade following the Carnival Triumph cruise ship fire, which made headlines for the dire conditions passengers were forced to endure, including meager meal options and non-working toilets. Yet, we are still waiting on those upgrades.

A 6-year-old boy tragically drowned this weekend in a Carnival Victory pool; a death which could have been possibly prevented had the cruise line hired multiple lifeguards to be on duty and watching for signs of possible drowning.

To the naked eye, a child may just appear to be playing underwater. But to the trained eye of a lifeguard, dangerous situations can be spotted a mile away.

There are many things cruise lines can do to improve safety, if anything at least require small children to wear arm floats while in the pool and limit the number of guests inside a pool or hot tub at any given time to avoid overcrowding and accidents.

If we can think of these simple options, that don’t cost a dime, why can’t the cruise industry?

We don’t know how much more we can stress the need for shipboard safety improvements across all fleets, not just Carnival or Celebrity.  There is no ship that is 100% safe and it’s high time the industry became seriously committed to making improvements to protect passengers from harm so they can enjoy their vacations with peace of mind.

One of my theories about the accident on board cruise ships is that they are understaffing the ships and over working the crews that are on board. This can only lead to more accidents.