The cruise industry has often been criticized for failing to undertake and uphold adequate safety measures regarding both onboard and offshore operations. The issue became even more prominent following the Costa Concordia accident in 2012, which claimed the lives of 32 individuals. With every new accident or injury that is reported, consumer faith in cruise lines diminishes. And unfortunately, many cruise lines disregard calls from maritime authorities and cruise ship accident attorneys to increase their safety protocols to prevent disasters from happening altogether. Yet, one cruise line appears to have taken decisive action in light of a recent tragedy.
Following last week’s tragic float plane shore excursion accident in Ketchikan, Alaska that led to the deaths of eight cruise ship passengers and the pilot, Holland America Line has decided to suspend all tours with the plane’s operator, Promech Air.
The accident took place on Thursday, June 25, when the tour operator’s DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter turboprop float plane crashed in the Misty Fjords National Monument. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash, but Holland America is not taking things lightly. According to a Travel Weekly article, the cruise line, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp., announced that it has suspended all sales of Promech’s flightseeing shore excursion in Ketchikan, but will continue to offer similar tours with other operators.
Holland America has also allowed passengers to cancel any previously scheduled flightseeing shore excursions – whether they are operated by Promech or not – and obtain a full refund. This is big news, since many cruise lines do not issue refunds on shore excursions, even when unfavorable weather conditions prevent the tour from taking place. We applaud HAL officials for taking the necessary steps to protect passenger safety and for allowing guests to cancel similar shore excursions, even if they weren’t operated by Promech.
Unfortunately, it will still be a while before we learn the official cause of the plane crash. According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska chief, Clint Johnson, it will take several months for the agency to reveal its initial theories on the probable causes of the accident, and it could take up to a year before a final crash report is published.
Investigators first speculated that weather could have played a role in the crash. As one of the largest float plane shore excursion operators in Alaska, it seems odd that Promech would consider allowing a flight to run as scheduled in light of adverse weather conditions, knowing the possible risks. Still, numerous tour operators across the world have often failed to take proper precautions to ensure the safety of those undertaking their excursions.
Though it may be some time before the circumstances surrounding the float plane accident are revealed, the loved ones of those where killed in the crash can consult with a shore excursion accident lawyer to discuss their rights and options in the event that tour operator negligence was to blame for the tragedy.