Strange accidents have befallen the cruise industry in the past due to negligence on the part of cruise authorities. However, a recent shore excursion accident begs the question, do sometimes freak accidents happen?
A cruise passenger in her 60s was killed and three others were injured while on a shore excursion in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. The accident occurred on Monday when 13 passengers onboard the Quark Sea Spirit cruise ship were on a shore excursion sightseeing through the northern portion of the Fjortende Julibukta (the 14th of July Bay) in the Krossfjord, located close to the Northwest Spitsbergen National Park. The passengers were a board an inflatable rubber raft called a Zodiac when the boat was suddenly hit by a wave and everyone onboard was thrown into the icy waters of the Arctic.
The fatal cruise accident does not appear to have been caused by any crew member’s negligence, but there are some details that are just not adding up, leading authorities in Norway to question the incident.
Officials are still trying to determine exactly what happened in the moments before tragedy struck. Norwegian authorities say they received a call regarding the accident around noon and were told that a woman had been injured in a boat accident but was being treated by a doctor onboard the cruise ship.
A rescue helicopter transporting a doctor was then sent to the vessel, but the woman was already dead by the time emergency crews reached the Sea Spirit. The three other passengers who were hurt reportedly only sustained minor injuries but two of the victims were transported to a hospital at Longyearbyen for further treatment.
An autopsy has been ordered but as of right now, the circumstances surrounding the cruise passenger’s death remain a mystery.
The Sea Spirit is a small luxury vessel operated by US Quark Expeditions that travels remote locations in the Arctic. The ships are small because they are designed to traverse narrow passages, but for shore excursions, even smaller Zodiacs are used to transport passengers from the vessel to shore or on sightseeing expeditions.
Because it is the responsibility of the cruise line to exercise reasonable care for the safety of its passengers both onboard and during shore excursions, if the authorities find that failure to provide a reasonably safe shipboard environment was a factor in the cruise passenger’s death and the injuries of the three other travelers, US Quark Expeditions could be found to be responsible for the tragedy and could be ordered to compensate the victims and surviving loved ones of the deceased.
Accidents caused by the negligence and wrongdoing of cruise line employees are not uncommon, and cruise lines do all they can to try to limit their exposure and liability each time an accident causing injuries does occur.
At this point exactly what transpired in the waters of northern Norway on Monday is still not know, but hopefully authorities will do a thorough enough investigation to enable them to provide the victims of this accident with the evidence they will need to be able to obtain justice for their injuries and losses.