When Cruise Ships Encounter Bad Weather

People often picture cruises as being nothing but clear skies, calm waters and good times. However, cruise ships can encounter rough seas and stormy weather just like any other vessel.

In 2010, for instance, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship got caught in a Mediterranean winter storm. The Brilliance of the Seas survived the hurricane-force winds and 30-foot waves, though some damage and minor injuries were reported.

Also in 2010, CCTV footage from the Pacific Sun hit the internet, depicting onboard chaos when the Australian cruise ship encountered giant waves off the coast of New Zealand. In the video, helpless passengers and crewmembers slide uncontrollably back and forth across the ship — along with furniture and equipment — desperately trying to grab onto anything they can. The 2008 incident involved 42 reported injuries.

The good news is that with modern technology, cruise ships can often outrun storms. According to Cruise Critic, storms usually move about eight to 10 knots, compared to cruise ship speeds of 22 knots and above. However, even when a ship successfully outruns a storm, it may still encounter rough seas.

To keep passengers safe, cruise lines should:

  • Properly maintain ships and all onboard equipment
  • Train crew to effectively monitor weather conditions and respond to storm threats quickly and appropriately, including warning passengers and confining them to cabins if necessary
  • Never exceed a ship’s passenger capacity
  • Alter itineraries in response to sea conditions

Cruise lines must put safety first, even if it means passengers have to miss a port of call. Last October, for example, Carnival Cruise Lines changed the itineraries of five ships due to dangerous conditions in the Caribbean.

If the cruise lines fail to take measures to protect the safety of the passengers when encountering bad weather, or if they fail to take measures to avoid the bad weather altogether and passengers become injured or fall overboard as a result, the cruise line may be liable. Did bad weather cause your cruise injury? Contact a Boston maritime attorney today to learn about your legal rights.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers