Cruise Ship Liability

Cruise ships travel on the open seas, making an accident leading to injury on one of these vacation vessels hard to investigate. With so many people on board and travel through multiple countries, assigning fault can be even more difficult.

Injuries on board cruise ships often go unreported. There is usually a great deal of confusion regarding liability. But when an accident occurs on a cruise ship, it can be easiest to discover the negligent party while still on the ship. Potential injuries suffered by cruise ship passengers include:

  • Food poisoning illness in one of the many restaurants
  • Bacterial infection or illness from poorly cleaned quarters
  • Injury from ship parts or materials
  • Harm caused by ship personnel
  • Recreational injuries
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Other injuries

Passengers do not often board one of these cruises thinking they may become a victim in an accident. But crimes and injury can happen on a commercial boat just as much as they can on dry land. When these crimes or injuries occur, it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer for advice.

Statistics of Cruise Ship Crime

Cruise companies must report any severe crimes enacted upon Americans or U.S. individuals who are missing from the ship to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, according to the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010. Since 2011, cruise ship lines have complied with this CVSSA in reporting of over 900 crimes to the FBI. About 30 crimes on cruise ships were reported by the Coast Guard for the same period. Because these are only reported incidents of injury or crime, there are likely many more that have occurred but were not reported. Minor crimes are often among those not reported.

Cruise Line Crime Statistic Postings

Because safety has become such a big factor for many passengers in consideration of taking a cruise, some cruise ship lines have started publicly posting their own crime statistics. Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines provide potential travelers with a clear image of what can happen on board a cruise ship. Some of the reports from 2012 to mid-2013 include:

  • Royal Caribbean reported over 15 thefts in amounts exceeding $10,000
  • Royal Caribbean also reported five serious assaults
  • Ten rapes were reported by Royal Caribbean
  • Eleven sexual assaults were reported by Royal Caribbean cruise ship guests
  • Norwegian experienced one reported theft in excess of $10,000
  • Four serious assaults occurred on board Norwegian cruise ships
  • One rape was reported by Norwegian
  • Four sexual assaults were reported for Norwegian cruises

Since the beginning of 2015, reported crimes have significantly decreased. All three of the above-named reporting cruise lines only submitted a total of 28 crimes occurring during 2015.

Alleged Crimes on Cruise Ships

Rape and sexual assault are among the most frequently reported crimes on cruise ships. Thefts are also frequent compared to other types of crime, likely due to passengers carrying more money than usual to support their vacation. Physical assault occurs on board ships, but no homicides have been reported since the CVSSA.

Although statistics are reported, these numbers only reflect allegations. For example, money reported as stolen may have been lost. But investigations into these matters are not reported, nor are any findings of the investigations.

Liability of Cruise Lines for Passenger Crime

When passengers become victims of crime, injury or illness due to negligence by the cruise line, those passengers may have a cause of action against the cruise line bearing civil liability. When a passenger reports a crime on board a cruise ship, there are a multitude of legal issues that may arise. Some laws favor passengers, such as when cruise ship personnel are the ones causing injury. In such cases, the cruise line will likely be held responsible for their employees’ actions. In passenger-related crime, the cruise line can usually escape liability because they do not cause the offense. But if the cruise line negligently enabled a passenger to commit crime, they can be held liable.

Cruise Line Liability

Liability for on-board crime or injury can vary widely between cruise lines. There are many situations that are not in the control of the cruise ship, for which holding a cruise line responsible would prove difficult. This is the case when a passenger robs another passenger on board the vessel. Holding the cruise company liable for such an act would be very complicated. Many cruise lines have fine print associated with their tickets as part of which customers waive some rights by purchasing the ticket and boarding the ship.

Laws governing accidents and crime on board ships are complex. Personal injury cases, negligence, wrongful death, premises liability and other cases can become particularly confusing regarding liability. The same is true in regard to the CVSSA, the Jones Act and workers’ compensation laws. With so many laws to consider as part of a case, it is important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer guiding such action to ensure proper procedures are followed and the right laws are considered.

When anyone is victimized on a cruise ship, it is important to report the crime. There may be more than one type of claim a victim may pursue and an experienced attorney will aid in establishment of a legitimate, valid case.

Legal Help for Cruise Ship Crime or Injury

If you are injured on a cruise ship or during cruise line travel, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury and premises liability lawyer for advice about your case. Call the Phoenix personal injury and premises liability attorneys of Cantor Crane at 602.254.2701 for a free, no-obligation consultation and guidance regarding your next steps.

Share this Article

About the Author

Benjamin G. Kelsen Esq. provides efficient legal representation for Criminal Defense & DWI Defense Cases in Hackensack, Garfield & Teaneck.

Contact Us Get Help Now