The new cruise season is approaching, and many are getting ready to hit the high seas in full force. However, given the fact that the last few years have been riddled with criticism for the cruise industry, any experienced maritime lawyer might wonder if there will even be a significant turnout of passengers.
Results from recently conducted Harris Polls reveal that trust in the cruise industry has severely declined due to an increase in the number of accidents and crimes in the past few years. The Costa Concordia tragedy of 2012 and the Carnival Triumph fire of 2013 were two of the accidents that had the most significant impact on cruiser opinion. The Concordia accident, which involved the vessel crashing into a large rock off the coast of Giglio, Italy and subsequently capsizing, led to the deaths of 32 individuals. The Triumph fire was the result of a fuel leak, and the incident left over 3,000 people stranded in the Gulf of Mexico with meager rations and zero working toilets. Sadly, both of these accidents could have been prevented had a greater amount of care been given to ensuring the safety of passengers.
But while the public’s opinion on cruising has diminished, one nation projects a pretty significant spike in the number of cruisers that will call on its port.
According to a recent article on the Caribbean Journal, St Kitts, one of the most popular cruise destinations, expects around one million cruise passengers for the 2014/2015 cruise season, a 31.5 percent increase over last year’s totals and an overall 500 percent increase over the past eight years.
“The fact that we will be welcoming this record number of cruise passengers to St Kitts is a testament to the high quality of our tourism infrastructure and to the partnerships that our destination has forged with industry stakeholders,” said Tourism Minister Ricky Skerritt.
A big chunk of these passengers will come from Royal Caribbean’s newest vessel, the Quantum of the Seas, which is scheduled to be inaugurated within the next few months.
However, it’s a little frightening to think that with all these projected passengers, no one is commenting on what kind of improved safety strategies will be employed to keep travelers safe? If these figures are accurate, there’s going to be a lot of traffic in St Kitts, which, in turn, can lead to a lot of mishaps if cruise lines aren’t careful.
With so many cruise passengers heading to St Kitts, there is a significantly larger chance that travelers may become involved in an accident. Additionally, there’s also much more chance a cruise passenger will become the target of a crime. With a lot more people in port, criminals have a much greater chance of getting away with committing robberies and assaults. For one, they’ll be able to make a stealthy getaway, and two, they’ll have much more people to target in general.
It’s important cruisers traveling to St Kitts – or any other foreign destination – who have been injured or become the victims of a crime contact a maritime lawyer for assistance as soon as possible. Cruise lines have a responsibility to protect everyone aboard a vessel – both passengers and crew – to a reasonable degree. If not, they may be held liable (at least in part) for any accidents that ensue, especially if the incident was the result of the cruise line’s own negligence in failing to maintain safety onboard or failing to maintain the safety of travelers while ashore.