How Safe Is The Cruise Industry?

Jul 05, 2018

The number of people going on cruises is increasing dramatically all the time. In 2007 nearly 16 million people took cruises globally but this is expected to exceed 25 million by 2019. By comparison, marine accidents were reported to be responsible for the deaths of just over a thousand people in 2017. These figures would suggest that cruising is statistically safer than any other form of transport. Unfortunately these statistics only scratch the surface and the truth is much harder to uncover. Maritime law makes it difficult to ensure that accurate statistics are reported. While some of the maritime laws, such as the Jones Act, protect the crew the truth is that preventing, prosecuting and getting compensation for, crimes, injuries, and deaths at sea is not a straightforward thing.

Putting Things In Context

By next year 25 million people will be cruising and only a tiny proportion of them will ever experience any issues at sea. Cruises are generally very safe and highly enjoyable but this isn't the case for everyone. According to this Phoenix personal injury lawyer, crimes and injuries still occur at sea, and while these are at a significantly lower level than on land the effects can still be devastating. If the worst happens and you have been injured in an accident or due to a crime, it may not be that easy to get compensation.

International Waters And Maritime Law

If your injury occurred 12 miles or less from shore you could seek legal redress in the country whose coast you are off. This area is considered to be their sovereign waters and the ship is essentially in that country. Up to 24 miles out from a coast you may find that some courts or law enforcement agencies will help you. While not actually sovereign, these waters are recognized as being within the sphere of influence for a country; a kind of buffer zone. Beyond this lies International Waters. No man’s land. In the vast stretches of International Waters things can be more complicated. What should happen is that your ship is considered to be part of the country whose flag it flies. In reality it depends upon the country and the company. If your ship is registered to the USA, The UK or most European countries things may be relatively straightforward. The problems can be when the flag of a hostile, corrupt or otherwise unsavory country is used. 

What Goes Unnoticed

Deaths and mass outbreaks of disease can make the news and force a response but the fact is cruise companies do all they can to prevent the truth about their statistics from coming to light. Reputable cruise companies have excellent communication and take care to avoid any corners being cut that could cause harm. Unfortunately other companies are not as conscientious and the majority of injuries and illnesses on board can be traced back to some form of negligence. Food poisonings, slips, pool accidents and so on, are all in the hands of the cruise company and its crew. It is a sad fact that for some companies it is cheaper to compensate an injured guest than to address the actual problem.

Cruising is undeniably fun and great value for money but you need to go in with your eyes open. The sad fact is that disreputable firms have the ability to evade legal recourse. If you find yourself in need of assistance the complexity of the law involved means that you are much better to hire an experienced firm than to try to tackle the problem head on.