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Staying Safe on a Cruise Ship

Cruise ships are a popular method of vacationing. From 2005 to 2010, about 100 million passengers took cruises according to the Cruise Lines International Association. Annually almost 12 million passengers embarked on cruises worldwide. In South Florida alone, there are more than 8 million visitors to Florida’s seaports (Port of Palm Beach, Port Everglades, Port of Miami).

Each year thousands of passengers are injured on cruise ships. Many believe cruise ship injuries and cruise ship deaths were underreported, and until recently, cruise lines were not required to report incidents in a timely, meaningful way. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which requires cruise lines to report all deaths, missing persons, theft, sexual harassment and assaults.

While the cruise line and cruise ship industry have a duty of care to guard against accidents and injury, some of the common injuries can include: slip and fall accidents, falling overboard, pool or recreational area accidents and drowning (scuba diving and snorkeling), medical staff negligence, food poisoning, Norwalk virus (norovirus), legionnaires disease, assault or battery by crew or passengers due to negligent security, sexual assault by passengers or crew, wrongful death due to cruise negligence, injuries arising from a cruise line-approved excursion and employee injuries (boiler room and engine room explosions).

Knowledge is the best prevention. To help ensure you have a safe trip, here are some maritime safety tips:

* Review the cruiseship’s “report card” by visiting the Center for Disease Controls website at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/ before booking your cruise. Reports show results of inspections on cleanliness, repairs, food preparation, storage, water quality, hygiene, and more.

* Stay Vigilant by being aware of your surroundings. Stay with the group especially if going on off-shore excursions, avoid dark hallways, be a responsible drinker and do not accept drinks from strangers, stay connected with family and friends, always know who your kids are with and meet with and check cruiseship staff who may watch your children.

* Medical Incidents. Passengers should know that cruise lines exist outside the bounds of U.S. regulations. Check the medical capabilities of your cruiseship before booking to ensure adequate medical care onboard. Are their doctors properly licensed? Let the medical staff know of any medical conditions. Always have your doctors contact information on you and always bring an extra week’s supply of prescription medications.

* Know the drills by paying attention to safety instructions at the muster drill where passengers are instructed on evacuation plans in case of emergencies.

* Be careful on decks. Be careful on decks when underway, especially the higher decks. Wind gusts can reach hurricane force and blow you off deck, even while holding onto somebody else. In rough seas, stay off deck at all times, stay away from windows, and large movable objects. Be aware of wet surfaces especially around pool decks, showers and water parks to avoid slip and falls.

Boating, cruises ship, water recreation, maritime and admiralty claims can be complex and can often involve state, federal or international laws depending on the location of the incident. It’s important to speak with an experienced maritime litigation lawyer that can help you obtain compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and other damages