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Cruises Are Not Risk-Free Vacations

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While more than 23 million people flee the cold north weather each year to enjoy a cruise, many of those will find that the vacation of their dreams was more of a nightmare.

Falls. Attacks. Norovirus. Medical mistakes. Sexual assaults. Shore excursions gone awry.

These are just a  few of the ways a cruise can go bad.

In just one week in 2017, two separate cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean had norovirus outbreaks (The Ovation of the Seas and Independence of the Seas).  For those unfamiliar with norovirus, it is a nasty gastrointestinal virus easily spread in confined places.  This is the most frequent problem found on cruise ships today. In fact, over 100,000 passengers have been victimized by this terrible virus, which often mimics the flu.

Passengers will then wonder, “what’s the best way to avoid getting Norovirus when I’m on a cruise ship?” The best thing you can do is to wash your hands…a lot.  Don’t touch your mouth, nose or eyes unless you have thoroughly washed.  Stay away from crowded places and use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash.  It’s also a good idea to avoid buffet’ which are popular on cruise ships but harbor lots of bacteria.

For other cruise ship risks, being aware of the hazards is the first and most important step.  Never leave your drink. The danger of drink spiking exists on ships as well as at ports.  In ports it is always best to only drink from something that was sealed, like a bottle.

People slip (and trip) and fall on ships all the time.  Sometimes it is because there are wet substances on the ground that should not be there. Sometimes it is because there is a high threshold. Or a change in flooring surface.  Whatever the reason, watching carefully where you are going is the best fall prevention.  Sometimes you have no way of knowing, such as slipping on a wet floor that has no hazard sign.

Cruise Lines are responsible for the medical care provided to passengers aboard their ships.  Although you never want to use them, you may have no choice if you are injured or become sick aboard the ship.  If you have a serious illness, ask to be evacuated to the nearest large city by helicopter or be transported into the next port.  Being in a real hospital is generally a better place than the infirmary aboard a cruise ship.

Finally, stay with others.  Going off alone on a  cruise ship can lead to cases of passengers overboard or a sexual assault by a passenger or crew member. These are not things you want to happen to you or anyone with whom you are traveling. By watching your alcohol intake and staying with others, you greatly reduce the chance of something untoward occurring.

When something goes wrong on a cruise vacation, be aware that the cruise ship’s ticket for passage controls how, where and when a case must be brought.  Generally, the cruise lines require that the case be filed in Miami, Florida in Federal Court and the lawsuit filed within 1 year of the date of the injury. They also generally require written notice within 180 days. Because of these short deadlines, waiting is never a good idea.

Most of the time passengers on cruise ships come home with great memories and a tan.  Be one of those vacationers, not the ones we end up representing.