Will Norwegian’s Super Bowl Cruise Be a Success or a Breeding Grounds for Cruise Ship Accidents?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Super BowlThe Super Bowl is just around the corner, and we all know what that means. Barbeques, parties and, of course, beer. But this year, one cruise line is taking on the daunting task of throwing one of the biggest Super Bowl shindigs yet. Norwegian Cruise Line is going all out to celebrate the height of football glory with a Super Bowl-themed cruise. Yep, that’s right football fans, you can see the best game of the season from onboard Norwegian’s newest ship. Sounds like a lot of fun, but is Norwegian getting a little carried away? Could this special cruise be an accident waiting to happen?

Who doesn’t want to go all out on Super Bowl Sunday? But next year, around 4,000 football fans will be spending game day onboard the Norwegian Getaway. The line’s newest vessel will be temporarily remodeled into a “Bud Light Hotel” for Super Bowl 2014. Cruise passengers will not only get to enjoy the game, but they’ll also be surrounded by tons of Bud Light memorabilia, and of course, tons of beer.

The vessel will dock in New York for the Feb. 2 game, with lodging available from the previous Thursday through the Monday following the event.  But while this sounds like it could be a great time for cruise guests, the cruise ship accident lawyers at our firm aren’t sure this isn’t going to result in greater than the average number of onboard accidents typically occurring on themed cruises.

Cruise lines have already gotten criticized in the past for over serving alcohol to passengers, and sometimes, even serving alcohol to minors. We can only imagine how many guests will become overly intoxicated on a cruise that has beer and the Super Bowl as a theme.

Luckily, the ship will be docked the entire time, but this doesn’t mean that accidents can’t still take place. All of the ship’s amenities will be available for use, including the pool, water slides and a two-deck spa. Cruise ship accidents can happen anywhere, especially on the Lido deck where several passengers as of late have been involved in near-drowning and drowning accidents.

Last month, a 6-year-old boy drowned in a Carnival Victory pool while in September, 1985 MOVE bombing survivor Michael Ward, 41, drowned in a Carnival Dream hot tub.

Cruise lines do not employ lifeguards to keep watch over guests using pool facilities, so it’s up to the passengers themselves to be safe. Even the most skilled of swimmers can suffer a cramp, or have someone else shove them into a corner or land on them when they jump into the pool. Without lifeguards watching what is happening and controlling the “fun”, ship board pool and spa injuries are a common occurrence and while most are not serious enough to result in a lawsuit being filed, we do file a fair number of these kinds of lawsuits every year.

Add alcohol into the mix, and the stakes quickly get higher. Not only is it be more likely that a cruise passenger suffer a serious injury when under the influence of alcohol, but add in team rivalry and aggressive behavior, fights, and assaults are much more likely to occur on board than say at the stadium, or a local bar where the game will also be shown.

So, who is responsible if any of these situations arise? Are the passengers to blame if a big bar brawl breaks out on the ship? Or is it the ship operators themselves who would be at fault?

The answer is simple – it would be the cruise line’s fault. First of all, all cruise lines are responsible for maintaining a safe shipboard environment, and this includes keeping disagreements from escalating into full-blown fights where fists are getting thrown and people are getting hurt. One of the ways lines can prevent this from happening is to limit the amount of alcohol that will be served to passengers. Another would be to have an adequate number of adequately trained and equipped security personnel on board to be able to deal effective with crowd control.

Yes, we understand it is an ale-themed cruise, but that doesn’t mean passengers should not have a limit set on their consumption based on the same tried and true rules used in land based venues. If all cruise lines limited the number of drinks served to passengers, and cut off individuals who are clearly intoxicated, several past accidents and fights would probably have not ever happened.

However, because cruise lines derive a big chunk of their profit from alcohol sales, we’re not likely to see an alcohol limit imposed on any ship any time soon.

The more a passenger drinks, the more the cruise line will make. Cruise line operators are business men and women who know exactly how to give their guests what they want and profit from it. And what could possibly please a crowd more than a beer-themed Super Bowl cruise?

As we speak, the Getaway is getting ready for its big debut in Germany and will be all set to provide a good time to cruise passengers come late January. The whole ship will be decked in Bud-Light swag, from hall decorations to pillow shams to shampoo bottles.

We hope that Norwegian will put as much effort into passenger safety measures as it is putting into theme appropriate adjustments to the entire vessel. Otherwise, this might become one Super Bowl party that will not forgotten or repeated.