The cruise ship business is one that is constantly growing. Companies feel pressure to compete with each other and to innovate the cruise experience to make each voyage more exciting than the last. As a result, these companies often make problematic business decisions, which require excessive amounts of money and occasionally lead to them going to court. Additionally, climate change and rising sea levels are a growing concern within the cruise line business, and cruise companies are being forced to start thinking about the future of their businesses.
Between their large construction projects, constant innovation, criminal activity, and negligence on the part of operators or staff, cruise lines have been in the headlines a lot lately, and as passengers who can be hurt by the negligence of these major cruise operators, we should all be paying attention to the state of the industry and the dangers that cruises pose to consumers.
Recent Lawsuits Against the Cruise Lines
Recently, three people (one from the Bahamas and two from Alaska), told a court they wanted to be recognized as victims of Carnival Corporation’s environmental crimes. This came up during a trial between Carnival and federal prosecutors over the company’s illegal dumping of over 500,000 gallons of treated sewage into the ocean. The Carnival Corporation eventually pleaded guilty to these crimes and as a result paid $40 million in fines and was put on probation for five years.
During those probationary years, their court-appointed monitor found that they continued violating international environmental laws through the burning unfiltered heavy fuel oil and other illegal activities such as falsifying records, dumping plastic into the ocean, using a back channel to communicate with the Coast Guard, failing to give their environmental compliance officer the level of authority outlined in their probation, and improperly preparing their ships ahead of visits by the court-appointed monitor.
The Grand Princess, one of the ships owned by Carnival, even docked in Alaska in 2017 with a dead whale on the bow of the ship. As a result, they were put back on trial for violating their probation, during which the judge threatened to ban the company’s ships from docking at U.S. ports. The public wrote letters urging her to punish the cruise line for their repeated violations.
Another concerning trend in cruise line behavior is a sense of disdain for the safety of their passengers and a lack of regulations to protect their safety. For example, MSC cruises was sued by the mother of a 14-year old girl who was sexually assaulted by one of their crew members. The cruise line did not look at employment history or perform a background check before hiring the crew member. The girl was on the cruise with her grandparents and older sister because her younger brother had his finger amputated by a door and her parents disembarked to take him to the hospital. MSC was sued for “failing to provide reasonably safe conditions” aboard the ship, which led to the assault of a minor.
Carnival Cruise Lines had eight reports of sexual assaults between October 1st and December 31st of 2018, and Royal Caribbean had six. On the topic of passenger safety, Royal Caribbean also had issues with the Sky Pad, one of their onboard attractions that features a trampoline with bungee cords that allow a passenger to jump even higher than normal. They were forced to shut down the Sky Pad after one of the cords snapped and a passenger broke his pelvis.
Despite their repeated offenses in terms of the safety of their passengers and environmental regulations, the cruise industry continues to grow and companies continue to have enough money to think about the future of their businesses. 18 new cruise ships were set to launch this year, and the industry is expected to bring in a whopping $134 billion. Many believe that the growth in the industry is largely due to millennials and retirees, but the impact they are having on the overall popularity of cruise lines is enormous. Companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to update their vessels and attract these new audiences. The Sky Pad aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Mariner ship was one of the updated attractions that Royal Caribbean brought aboard during a $100 million remodel meant to attract millennials such as the 25-year-old who broke his pelvis.
With this rapid growth, there are growing concerns about the environmental impact of these expansions, especially if companies continue to behave as if they are above the law when it comes to environmental regulations. Additionally, companies are constantly looking for the next big thing in onboard entertainment and are making investments to develop the industry in places like China. One recent trend that companies are starting to have to pay attention to is climate change and rising sea levels.
Royal Caribbean is planning to spend $300 million to make their new PortMiami office look like an enormous ship, and one of the updates they are planning is to make sure their structures are at least 15 feet above sea level, as rising sea levels are a growing concern. Another reason Royal Caribbean is investing such a large sum of money to build their new office in Miami is to make the cruise line competitive when it comes to recruiting employees who are the best of the best. If they are going to compete with the rest of the growing industry to gain customers, they have to recruit the best staff.
Another example of companies trying to compete is that MSC recently purchased their own private island, Ocean Cay, which all of their cruises out of PortMiami will stop at. The company is working to build a larger terminal along PortMiami that won’t be completed until 2022, though in MSC’s case executives declined to say whether or not they were concerned about rising sea levels. Two other cruise lines, Norweigan Cruise line, and Virgin Voyages, are currently constructing new terminals in the same area.
Hurt in An Accident? Call Us For Help
As the cruise line industry expands and companies continue to make mistakes, it becomes more and more important for us to hold them liable when they do something illegal or endanger the lives of their passengers. The cruise ship attorneys of Louis A. Vucci, P.A. are ready to sit down with you and discuss your accident when you call us at (786) 375-0344 or when you reach out to us online. Our consultations are always 100% free and confidential, so there is no risk to reach out to us.