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Cruise Ship Passenger Safety Tips

October 29, 2010

It seems almost weekly we hear about a cruise ship scandal involving a missing passenger, crew member accident or other strange story.  Perhaps this increase in maritime cruise incidents led to the passage of The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, signed this summer by President Obama.  The new Act requires cruise lines to improve their onboard safety measures and to report any suspicious or dangerous activities such as passengers vanishing, crew members going overboard, suicides, murders, and sexual assaults.

Cruise vessels are often foreign-flagged from countries like Liberia and Panama which affects the laws they have to follow if a crime occurs.  In addition, filing lawsuits is also much more restricted for cruise ship passenger injury cases.  Most American passengers have to bring their cases in Miami, Florida courts, forced into a venue not of their choosing.  In addition to the venue issue, these cases have drastically shortened notice and filing requirements.  Read your ticket carefully.

About 12 million North Americans set sail on a cruise this year, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.  Cruise companies are required to report serious incidents involving Americans to the FBI and Coast Guard.  The FBI opened 184 cases on crimes that occurred aboard cruise ships between 2002 and 2007.

Sexual assaults on cruse ships have been heavily reported in the news.  Sexual and other physical assaults were the leading crimes committed onboard cruise ships in recent years, according to the FBI.  The rate of sexual assault on cruise ships is almost twice the U.S. rate of forcible rape, according to at least one cruise industry expert.

Readily available alcohol and a partying mentality on the vessels can change the mindset of travelers who are out for a good time.  Of the attacks investigated by the FBI, a majority involved alcohol.  The number of attacks on ships is probably higher than reported, because rape victims are afraid to come forward with their attackers nearby on the ship.  FBI statistics show that in nearly half of the incidents, a crew member is the suspect.

In addition to physical violence, cruise ship passengers need to watch out for illnesses.  Stomach ailments spread quickly and easily in close quarters like a cruise ship.  Norwalk virus is a stomach sickness occurring on cruise ships.  You can reduce your potential exposure to stomach bugs by washing your hands frequently, washing all produce before eating it, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces you touch.

For all onboard accidents and health issues, be prepared for inadequate medical care.  Ship doctors are usually not U.S.-trained or licensed and the shipboard supplies are not that great.  A cruise line won’t assume liability for the medical care you receive onboard so taking out travel insurance is recommended by experts.

 

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One comment

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Ehline, Michael Ehline. Michael Ehline said: Cruise Ship Passenger Safety Tips « Personal Injury Law in South … http://bit.ly/9sERFf […]



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