People generally go on cruises to alleviate stress and enjoy vacation in a new, exciting place, but cruise ships pose certain health threats and hazards that people should prepare themselves for before going on these endeavors. According to the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The crowded, semienclosed environment of the cruise ship can facilitate transmission of infectious diseases from person to person or from contaminated food, water, air, or environmental surfaces”.
As an ill-fated example, Law360, a subsidiary of LexisNexis, wrote an article about plaintiff Victoria Provost who began a cruise on a Carnival cruiseline in August of 2014. Ms. Provost used allegedly unsanitary hot tubs on the ship and ended up being hospitalized for bacterial infections including MRSA. Ultimately, she required multiple surgical procedures and was left with disfigurement and mental suffering. This case is just one amongst many that was caused by an inadequacy of proper infection controls aboard a cruise ship.
Similarly, a recent article in The Wall Street Journal discusses a 1920 law known as the Death on the High Seas Act which affords the cruise industry “broad immunity from damages in wrongful death cases involving retirees and other passengers who have no financial dependents”. This law was cited by the attorneys for the company International Expeditions, an Alabama-based company that chartered a cruise wherein two retirees were killed by smoke onboard La Estrella Amazonica on the Peruvian Amazon. The attorneys explained that under this law, International Expeditions had no financial obligation to the family. This is particularly alarming and calls for a revamp of the modern cruise industry which provided services to more than 11 million Americans in 2015. According to this same Wall Street Journal article, travelers aged from 60 to 74 comprise about 25% of all North American cruise travelers.
Infections aren’t the only hazards on cruise ships. According to the CDC, injuries that are usually from slips, trips or falls account for 12-18% of medical visits onboard the ship. If you or a loved one have suffered from an infection or injury while aboard a cruise ship, please call my office immediately for a free consultation.