Gone are the days of good ole’ cruise travel, when the best part about cruising was the destinations that passengers would get to visit. These days, cruise travel is all about innovation and the latest and greatest gadgets and technology to keep the modern-day traveler inspired. Hop aboard any of the newer cruise ships and you’ll find a slew of amenities that will leave you in awe. From zip lines to robot bartenders, it seems like cruise lines are definitely not running short of inspirational ideas to keep their passengers entertained while on the high seas.
Among the many amenities current-day cruise ships offer is the popular FlowRider. A staple on several Royal Caribbean ships, the FlowRider is a small surf pool that simulates surfing. Sounds like fun, right? Well, from the standpoint of our cruise ship accident lawyers here at LMAW, there’s much more to the FlowRider than meets the eye.
While FlowRiders are intended to provide cruisers with a fun alternative to the standard pool option, they also come with their fair share of hazards. Given that the majority of cruise lines do not employ lifeguards at their pools, coupled with the fact that drowning accidents can occur in the blink of an eye, these otherwise seemingly innocent cruise ship features can be a breeding grounds for serious accidents and injuries.
Unfortunately, the danger of FlowRiders has been highlighted due to a recent alleged accident aboard a Royal Caribbean ship. A cruise passenger aboard the Independence of the Seas vessel allegedly sustained serious injuries this week, causing ship to make an unexpected early return to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday, May 10.
According to news reports, the passenger sustained severe head injuries after falling from his surf board while attempting the FlowRider surf simulator. Though we don’t yet know the exact circumstances that led to the accident, we do know that the vessel returned to port in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
What makes matters worse is that Royal Caribbean has passengers sign “Onboard Activities Waivers” to use certain facilities, including the FlowRider, which means that cruise passengers use these facilities “at their own risk” and the cruise line is offered protection against liability in the event of an accident.
Sadly, this wouldn’t be the first cruise passenger to suffer injuries on a FlowRider. There have been several other incidents reported, including an injury sustained in 2012 by an Oasis of the Seas passenger that our firm represents. The common misconception is that anyone can ride a FlowRider, but in reality, the FlowRider is a surfing simulator, and not many cruise travelers are experienced surfers. Rather than lying on the board, many passengers opt to stand, which can lead them to fall off their boards and sustain serious injuries. Add two to three inches of waves splashing in your face and you are very likely to wipe out if you have no previous surfing experience.
Truth be told, cruise ships can be a lot of fun, offering a plethora of innovative features for passengers to enjoy. However, the fact remains that not every passenger is aware of the risks that come with enjoying these amenities, or the wavers they may be asked to sign. It’s important to evaluate the possible risks associated with onboard activities before deciding to partake in a possibly dangerous experience.