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Planning A Cruise? Playing it Safe on The Open Seas

The Anastopoulo Law Firm

Summer is high season for taking a cruise. Families working around hectic school and work schedules are frequently opting for cruising as a family vacation, versus loading the kids in the car and heading to the beach or mountains. No longer just for honeymooners and retirees, cruising has become increasingly popular for weekend getaways, couples’ retreats, and even family reunions. For South Carolinians, having a major port of call right here in Charleston makes it especially easy to plan and take a vacation on a cruise ship.

While cruising can be a convenient and economical way to relax and get away, there’s no avoiding the periodic headlines about cruise ship disasters: ship strikes, accidents and injuries, and entire ships with sick passengers. While the fear of injuries and illnesses aboard cruise ships shouldn’t keep you from sailing, it’s a good idea to be aware of some of the most common threats aboard these ships, and how to prevent them.

Cruise Ship Injuries

Cruise ships operate under both federal and international regulations designed to provide for the safety of the passengers and crew. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), cruise ships are subject to periodic coast guard safety inspections. These inspections focus on safety matters such as fire prevention, maintaining equipment and ensuring it’s functioning properly, and maintaining adequate safety equipment, such as lifeboats and life vests.

Despite precautions, accidents do happen. According to studies conducted by the National Institute of Health over a three-year period, close to 700 cruise ship passengers were treated for injuries, and the most common cause of cruise ship injuries was slip, trip, and fall accidents. Injuries related to these types of accidents frequently include:

  • Head and brain injuries
  • Neck, back or spinal cord injuries
  • Wounds and lacerations
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Muscle strains and sprains

Slip, trip, and fall injuries aboard cruise ships are often due to several factors. Wet, slippery surfaces, poor lighting, unmarked steps, and obstacles in paths and walkways can combine with passengers still trying to get their ‘sea legs’.

Cruise Ship Illnesses

In addition to injuries, onboard illnesses are often a frequent cause of medical emergencies. Gastrointestinal outbreaks from food or water contamination are a major concern for the cruising industry, as well as for passengers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of cruise ships participate in the Vessel Sanitation Program, which requires cruise ship companies to report the total number of GI illnesses treated by onboard medical staff before leaving U.S. or international ports. The goal here is to reduce the number of mass outbreaks of illnesses aboard cruise ships. When cruising, the CDC advises you to follow several simple safety precautions:

  • Wash hands frequently
  • Drink bottled water when visiting ports of call
  • Ask for advice from ship stewards on where to eat during excursions
  • Use insect repellant to avoid airborne disease
  • Avoid sick passengers, or those experiencing symptoms of GI illness, such as fever
  • Weakness or vomiting

Call Our Experienced South Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one suffered illness or injury while on a cruise, contact our experienced South Carolina personal injury attorneys today. At Anastopoulo Law Firm we can help you determine if you are eligible for damages due to medical expenses and pain and suffering. With offices in Charleston and throughout South Carolina, we’ll fight for your right to get the compensation you deserve. Reach out to us today for a consultation.


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