Duty of Care Owed to Passengers
Our cruise ship drowning attorneys and pool accident lawyers understand the dangers associated with drownings and near-drownings from unattended pools. Cruise lines owe their passengers the duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. Most major cruise lines take the position that not having lifeguards stationed at their pools is reasonable and not a breach of the duty of care. Cruise lines claim they, like shore side hotels, are only required to post signs around the pool indicating there is no lifeguard on duty and swimmers enter the pool at their own risk. Currently, there are no laws and no case law that requires cruise lines to hire lifeguards. In cases involving minors, cruise lines blame the children’s parents arguing it was their duty to watch over their children. What cruise lines leave out, however, is that their ships are more similar to waterparks and floating cities than they are to hotels.
Cruise ships carry thousands of people and during a typical day at sea most passengers head to the pool area for entertainment. Thus, pools are often overcrowded. Additionally, cruise lines’ revenues depend largely upon alcohol sales. Anyone who has ever been on a cruise is familiar with the many cocktail servers pushing fruity drinks on passengers around the pool areas. This combination of overcrowding plus alcohol unfortunately often result in accidental drownings or near drowning with dire consequences, i.e., death or permanent brain injury due to lack of oxygen. Recently, and apparently in response to mounting negative media and public pressure, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line announced they will soon begin to staff their cruise ships with lifeguards as an added water safety measure.
Until their announcement, Disney Cruise Line was the only major cruise line with lifeguards onboard its vessels. Law suits brought by maritime personal injury advocates, including the cruise ship drowning attorneys and pool accident lawyers with Brais Law Firm have hopefully contributed to the decision by recent cruise lines to hire lifeguards aboard their vessels.
The change will eventually force the remaining cruise lines to hire lifeguards in the near future for fear that non-compliance will represent evidence of a breach of a recognized industry wide standard. Until then, for those carriers providing lifeguards, as voluntary undertakers of a duty, they will be expected to carry out their duties reasonably under the circumstances.