Hurricane Irma Threatens Cruise Ship Passenger Safety

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

When you set out on a cruise vacation, the last thing you want to discover is that your blissful time at sea could be tossed overboard due to an impending hurricane. Even worse, if the hurricane is headed towards your family and friends back at home, your vacation can quickly turn from much needed relaxation to a stressful and chaotic situation.

As we move into the height of hurricane season in the U.S., these are problems that many passengers and crewmembers are beginning to face. Just recently, Hurricane Harvey left a path of devastation and stranded thousands of individuals on their cruise ships for days on end. Now, the weather reports predict the possibility of another hurricane making landfall.

Passenger and Crewmember Safety Should Be a Top Priority

Right on the heels of Hurricane Harvey is Hurricane Irma. With a trajectory that threatens to wreck havoc on the Caribbean and Florida, several major cruise lines are making choices to keep their passengers safe.

On Tuesday, Norwegian Cruise Line announced its decision to bring both the Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Escape back on Thursday, instead of later in the week. In preparation for what could be an extremely destructive storm, the cruise line has also cancelled trips that were scheduled to depart on Friday and Saturday.

Norwegian is joined by Royal Caribbean and Carnival, as all three companies have adjusted cruise schedules to avoid the storm. Both Royal Caribbean and Carnival rerouted cruises from the Eastern Caribbean to the Western Caribbean. Following Norwegian’s lead, Royal Caribbean has also cancelled the upcoming voyages for Majesty of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas. These cruises were scheduled to leave Port Canaveral and Miami, respectively, on Friday.

More than 40,000 vacationers will be impacted by these itinerary changes. Norwegian reportedly is giving passengers on the cancelled cruises a full refund, in addition to 50% towards a future cruise. Royal Caribbean is also reportedly refunding passengers for their cancelled cruises, and is offering 25% towards a future cruise.

All cruise lines with ports of call and itineraries scheduled for Florida and the Eastern Caribbean will be reevaluating plans as the storm unfolds.

At the last report, Hurricane Irma had grown to a massive Category 5 storm. This makes her the strongest hurricane ever reported in the Atlantic Basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

LMAW, PA: Maritime Lawyers Who Advocate for Your Safety

As the hurricane draws near, we are glad to know that these cruise lines are taking the necessary measures to ensure that their passengers are out of harm’s way. Although listening to the weather may seem like an obvious need, there have been cases–such as the Anthem of the Seas disaster— when Royal Caribbean disregarded all warnings and sailed directly into a storm.

Thankfully, that is not the current situation. However, we will continue to watch and hope that no one will be seriously injured by this storm.

As maritime lawyers, we understand the trust that passengers place in their cruise line when they book a cruise. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the cruise to make the decision that is best for their passengers, even if it is not best for their bottom line.

If you have been injured aboard a cruise and believe that your cruise line may be to blame, speaking with a member of our team can help. We have experience defending clients against many major cruise lines, so we know what you are going through. When you are ready to face your legal situation head on and receive the results you deserve, do not hesitate to contact us