Every year it seems like we hear about someone “disappearing” at sea while on a cruise. More often than not, there are no witnesses to what happened and the cruise ships label the disappearances as “mysterious circumstances.” The cruise lines may spin these situations as a simple case of a drunk passenger deciding to jump.
According to Canadian college professor, Ross Klein, in 2008 there were 12 passengers or crewmen have gone overboard from cruise ships or ferries. Since no central government agency maintains records of cruise ship disappearances or deaths or falls from cruise ships, Professor Klein derived his data from various news outlets.
“They’re (the cruise lines) trying to sell a vacation product and this isn’t good news . . . .They tout cruising as the safest mode of transportation anywhere in the world. People go on them expecting to be safe, and these incidents contradict that perception,” states Professor Klein.
Every cruise ship has barriers designed to prevent passengers from falling overboard. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine some one falling off a cruise ship without being drunk or disregarding their safety. Nevertheless the cruise ships have the legal responsibility to take reasonable precautions to prevent this type of foreseeable occurrence.
Although falling overboard would seem to involve some comparative negligence on the part of the passenger, the cruise ships frequently over serve alcohol to their passengers without limits. Alcohol is a big money maker for the cruise lines. As a result of over-imbibing, passengers tend to fall on the decks of cruise ships and some even overboard. Accordingly, there may be some liability on the cruise lines for falls on and off the ship even though the passenger may have been intoxicated.
“It’s drink and drink and drink,” says Charles Harris, former chief of security for Carnival Cruises, a critic of cruise industry secrecy. “We’ll take your money, and if you fall overboard, we don’t worry about it.”
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