Staying Safe on a Cruise Ship

Many cruise passengers are rightly concerned with cruise ship safety and security, especially in light of the difficulties associated with obtaining accurate data about cruise ship accidents and crimes on cruise ships, including assault crimes and sexual offenses.

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. attorneys have fought to get legislation passed to require proper disclosure on the part of cruise ships when incidents occur, but it is still difficult for cruise passengers to fully understand the level risk they face.

Since it is so challenging for individuals who are selecting a cruise line to get a clear answer to the question, “Are cruise ships safe?” those who are traveling should make certain to do comprehensive research before setting sail.  It is also important to remember the following tips for cruise ship safety so you can make smarter choices on your cruise.

While there are steps you can take to increase your chances of staying safe on a cruise ship, ultimately it is the responsibility of the cruise line to create a safe environment for you and to minimize the risks you face.  If a cruise ship falls short in this obligation and you are hurt or your loved one is killed, a cruise ship attorney at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. can help you take action.

Staying Safe on a Cruise Ship: Research Cruise Lines Carefully

One of the first keys to staying safe while on a cruise is to research your options for travel carefully to find a cruise line with a more favorable safety record.

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. has information available about the cruise industry and different cruise lines on our website, including details about major carriers and vessels who have been sued in the past, such as Carnival and Anthem of the Seas.  You can also check the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which publishes details about the sanitary records of cruise ships. Additionally, there are other online resources available to learn about cruise lines with poor safety records, as well as those cruise lines that have the best record of accomplishment for providing a safe environment for passengers.

You do not always want to choose the cheapest ship or focus only on where the ship is going. You want to make certain to select a cruise line with a good reputation generally and the lowest number of accidents or sanitation violations so you don’t put yourself at increased risk of something going wrong at sea.

Cruise Ship Safety and Security Tips

1. Be Aware of the Threat of Violence

Once you are on the cruise, one of the biggest threats you face is acts of violence.  Many different types of criminal acts are committed at sea, including robberies and thefts, assaults, and sexual offenses.  Both adults and children have been victimized by acts of violence while aboard a cruise ship.

To reduce the chances of falling victim to these acts of violence, request a security guide when you begin your journey. As RAINN explains, you have the right to this guide, which should explain security protocols aboard the ship.

Other safety steps you can take include avoiding walking alone at night, steering clear of deserted areas on the ship while you are by yourself and exercising extra caution in situations where passengers have been consuming alcoholic beverages.  You should also avoid carrying valuables with you while aboard or in a port and children and minors should not wander the ship unsupervised, especially at night.

Cruisers should also be wary of developing a false sense of security while aboard ship. You cannot assume that your cabin is safe and should not leave the cabin door unlocked nor open the door to anyone you do not know.

If you are the victim of a violent crime, it is important to know your rights. For example, you have the right to a sexual assault forensic exam while you are on the ship after an attack, and cruise lines must have equipment and materials available to conduct this type of exam.  You also have the right to report the crime to the FBI and the Department of Transportation; if you are victimized while abroad you have the right to reach out to the U.S. embassy or consulate.

2. Avoid the Common Causes of Cruise Ship Accidents

Understanding common causes of cruise ship accidents is also important. A study published in the journal of International Maritime Health revealed slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of injuries on cruise ships.

Many of these incidents occurred in cabins — especially in the bathrooms and on outside decks.  To reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls, watch out for wet and slippery flooring surfaces and watch for surfaces where flooring material changes from type of material to another. Hold on to railings while walking up and down stairs and, if available, use hand holds while in the shower to prevent falling. In addition, when walking on wet areas such as around pools, spas, or other potentially slippery areas when wet be sure to wear appropriate footwear, one that will provide you with good traction.

Overboard accidents are also a risk at sea. To reduce the likelihood of this type of accident, stay away from the edges of the ship and watch children carefully to ensure they do not take risks near the edge of the ship.  Overboard accidents often occur when passengers drink too much, and many cruise ships will serve passengers even when they are dangerously intoxicated, so be especially cautious about when, where and how many alcoholic beverages you consume.

Another common cause of injuries and fatalities are drowning incidents. These are preventable by keeping a careful watch on your children and by being observant of risk factors around swimming pools, such as broken tiles or malfunctioning pool drains.  Drowning takes just seconds to occur in real life as opposed to how movies and TV depict them with the victim of drowning splashing and flailing for a while before they drown.  Vigilance at all times is essential to spot a person who is in distress in the water.

Many cruise ships do not have lifeguards, even though having a lifeguard could significantly reduce the risk of passengers drowning. Many children have also drowned even in kid-friendly pool areas that are supposed to be safe for younger cruise passengers. Do not assume your child is ever safe when playing near water and be certain to keep a very careful eye on your child at all times. Both children and adults have also drowned in hot tubs, so do not assume that these are safe either.

3. Exercise Caution on Shore Excursions

Cruise ship accidents do not just happen while aboard. You are at risk of injury on shore excursions as well. You face both the risk of violence while participating in shore excursions and the risk of other types of accidental injuries occurring.

To reduce the likelihood harm while on a shore excursion, research tour operators carefully and select only reputable operators ones with a strong reputation for safety. Make sure your tour operator is licensed, certified, and approved by the cruise line, and read reviews from prior passengers if available to find out what their experience was like and what risk to expect.

4. Seek Prompt Medical Help and Document Your Injuries

If you suffer an accident or an act of violence while cruising, it is important to respond to the incident with appropriate action. Seek medical care immediately and make sure to document your injuries and the care you receive.  Because the doctor works for the ship, and others who you report the crime to on board also work for the ship, you should not assume they are on your side. Their primary goal is to protect the cruise line that employs them, not you.

As soon as possible after the incident, you should reach out to an experienced cruise ship injury attorney to find out the next steps to take. Your attorney can help you determine what law enforcement agencies you should report the incident to, how you can gather evidence regarding who was at fault for the incident and what other steps you should take in order to try to protect your right to make a claim.

Get Help From Cruise Ship Lawyers Right Away – Let LMAW, P. A. Help

No matter how many tips for cruise ship safety you read, ultimately, there are risks that are beyond your control and injuries can happen when a cruise line is  lax in setting comprehensive policies related to cruise ship safety and security.

If you suffer injury while on a cruise, you should contact Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. as soon as possible. Our legal team can help you to determine if you have a case and maximize your chances of obtaining full and fair compensation. Contact us today to find out more.