Think Cruise Ships Are Safer Than Small Boats When It Comes To Accidents? Think Again

Posted on: 14 October 2016

The death of the Maimi Marlin's star pitcher Jose Fernandez in a boating accident in September and the injury to actress Lindsay Lohan in another boating accident have brought the serious dangers of boating into the spotlight once again. However, a lot of people assume that accidents like these are the norm—they take place on small boats with operators and passengers who aren't experts at boating. But what about cruise ships? Are they any safer? Here are the reasons you want to think twice before taking a cruise.

You may have more control over whether or not you have a boating accident on a small boat.

When you take a cruise, you're putting your life in the hands of people who are supposed to be experts, but you actually have no idea just what sort of experience the captain and crew actually have. The captain of the Titanic, for example, had failed his navigation test, yet was still put in charge of the luxury liner. Your modern-day captain may not be any better. In 2012, the Italian captain of a luxury cruise liner grounded his ship after deliberately taking it off course to impress his personal guest, then fled the ship in advance of his wounded and dying passengers. In 2014, a South Korean ferry captain overloaded boat and left hundreds of passengers to drown as he fled to safety.

It's very likely that both of the accidents that happened to Rameriz and Lohan were preventable. Lohan sliced her finger when attempting to assist with a task that was past her skill level. Experts believe the boat Fernandez was in was going too fast, causing the accident. If you're on a small boat, you have some ability to control the action, can ask the captain to slow down, and make sure that everyone is following the rules.

No one is systematically tracking the disasters on cruise ships.

Cruises are often advertised as escapes from reality—but, in reality, they escape a lot of legal and media scrutiny. Only major disasters make a lot of news, and incidents involving only one or two people don't make headlines. They may not even be reported. While cruise ships may base themselves out of the U.S., they typically incorporate and register overseas—so they have to report to the state out of which they operate but there's no national date being collected.

While some sources, like Cruise Junkie, have started to collect news reports in order to shine a light on the industry, there's still a lot of murky water to be explored. It is clear that certain types of incidents are all-too-commonplace:

Fires and power outages that leave ships stranded. In 2013, a Carnival cruise's engine fire left passengers stranded on a ship that was awash in raw sewage. Carnival responded by offering traumatized passengers a free cruise (which at least one passenger offered up to anyone who wanted it).

Passengers going missing without explanation. At least 165 passengers have gone missing from cruise ships between 1995 and 2011.

Thefts, sexual assaults, and even murders happen onboard. There's very little recourse for victims, and only 16% of murders and 7% of sexual assaults ever lead to convictions or plea bargains.

If you are injured, you need to seek an attorney.

Unless you're satisfied with a partial refund or a free ticket for another cruise, you need to seek the services of an attorney who is familiar with boating, cruise, and ferry accidents if you are injured, assaulted, or otherwise traumatized while on a cruise. They have the specialized knowledge of maritime law, which generally governs boating accidents, in order to know how to proceed properly in court to get a settlement for the negligence that caused your injury.