Could the Risk of Cruise Ship Injury Threaten the Future of Cruising in Europe?

cruise ship injury

Do the recent reports of cruise ship injury or illness have you re-thinking your summer plans? A recent cruise ship accident in Venice, Italy may be doing just that for tourists on the famed canals.  Last week, a massive cruise ship plowed into a riverboat and a concrete dock on a busy canal.

This accident follows a cruise accident in Hungary, which resulted in 10 deaths and at least a dozen missing persons.  These collisions have renewed interest in current regulations and restrictions on cruising in European cities.

The Crash in Venice

It seems unbelievable that towering cruise ships could wander the fabled canals of Venice, but it is true.  Relying on tugboats and advanced technology to guide the ships safely, passengers and Venetian residents marvel at the behemoth ships as they glide through the crowded canals of the ancient metropolis.

What may be a marvel of technology turned into a mistake, however, when a 65,500 ton cruise ship smashed into a small riverboat and then into a dock in the crowded Giudecca Canal.  The scene was chaotic with the massive ship, the MSC Opera, blaring its horn as the smaller riverboat attempted to maneuver to safety in the crowded waterway.  Unfortunately, those efforts seemed futile, and five people sustained  an undisclosed cruise ship injury.

Despite public outrage and an investigation by the Italian authorities, the cause of the cruise ship crash remains unknown.  Authorities are reviewing the information stored on the ship’s black box expecting to find evidence of technical malfunction.

After undergoing minor hull repairs, the MSC Opera resumed its itinerary just days after the crash.

The Deadly Crash in Budapest

Disturbing and horrifying in its own right, the crash in Venice seemed especially dramatic because only four days prior, a cruise ship on the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary caused an accident that killed 10 people and left another 18 missing.

The two accidents happening in such close succession highlighted the importance of safety regulations for cruise ships that navigate narrow metropolitan waterways such as the Venetian canals and the Danube in Budapest.  Both spots are popular and crowded tourist destinations where the risk of a cruise ship injury is high when things go wrong.

Cruise Ship Injury Risk Causes Concern Among Cruise Lines, Officials, and Lawmakers

There are some who say massive cruise ships like the Viking Sigyn in Budapest and the MSC Opera in Venice should not be allowed on the waterways in busy city centers.  Among those calling for a ban on cruise ships in cities are the mayors of both Budapest and Venice.

In Venice, opponents suggest restricting cruise ships to a terminal far outside the waters of the lagoon that flows into the canals.  This, of course, removes the charm for cruise ship passengers who surely must enjoy cruising through the canals of the historic city.  A terminal outside the city also presents a logistical problem to the cruise ship crew members who would have to figure out how to transport their passengers from the ship into the city.

Plans of this sort have stymied in bureaucratic struggles, with proponents of the cruising industry correctly pointing out that, by Italian law, passenger traffic must be separate from industrial and commercial traffic for the safety of the cruise ship passengers.  Not to mention, the canal path takes passengers past St.  Mark’s Square in Venice at the mouth of the Giudecca Canal, and cruise ship companies are reluctant to lose such a key attraction.

Adding to the outrage over the recent rash of cruise ship crashes, injuries, and related deaths, environmental campaigners are championing the cause of a total ban for cruise ships in the lagoon waters of Venice.

Environmental Concerns in Venice

Environmentalists are also concerned with the fragile ecosystem of the Venetian lagoon.  They say ocean-faring cruise ships:

  • Displace water
  • Wear down ancient building foundations
  • Cause air pollution
  • Damage the lagoon environment by dredging up mud

There has been a measurable degradation of the lagoon waters in the last century as they slowly change into more of a harbor or bay than the famous lagoon.  In the last 100 years, the canals that once stood at a mere 16 inches, are now five feet deep.

Consumer Demand Remains Despite the Risk of Cruise Ship Injury

Despite the reports of cruise ship injury, illness, or death, political posturing, and the unthinkable threat of the destruction of the priceless Venetian canals, public demand for pleasure cruising is undiminished.  Venice has twice the traffic of any other port in the Adriatic area.  The city is one of the most popular destinations in the world for cruise ships.

Last year, cruise ships:

  • Glided past St.  Mark’s Square or the Guidecca Canal 1,004 times
  • Carried more than 1.5 million passengers
  • Increased in both traffic and passenger numbers

In other cities where massive cruise ships meet a metropolis, pleasure cruise trips are also increasing.  In Budapest, having more than 100 cruise ships docked within the city is routine.  Overall, European markets have seen a 72 percent increase in cruise passenger numbers.

Experts predict the tragic crashes and reports of cruise ship injury in Venice and Budapest will not negatively impact the global demand for cruises.

Injury on a Cruise Ship: What are Your Rights?

No one expects to be injured while vacationing, but the reality is that accidents can happen anywhere, at anytime.  As far as a cruise ship injury, as long as it occurs onboard a ship and was caused by negligence, passengers can file a claim to hold the cruise line financially responsible.

Cruise lines may be held responsible for the costs of any illness or injury that passengers suffer due to hazards, unsafe environments, or negligence among operators or cruise staff.  Dramatic crashes like these are not the only situations in which it is possible to sue for a cruise ship injury.

Speak to a maritime injury attorney if you have experienced any of the following while aboard a cruise ship:

  • Food poisoning or foodborne illness
  • Legionnaires’ Disease
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Accidents on elevators and escalators
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Bedbug bites
  • Injuries from unsecured objects that fell from upper decks or overhead compartments
  • Fires

It is also possible to hold a cruise line responsible for any injury suffered while participating in activities sponsored by the cruise line.  This can be something of a gray area because it may not be obvious which company is sponsoring on-shore activities.

Get Help With a Cruise Ship Injury Claim

If you have experienced an injury or illness while on a cruise, seek the advice of an experienced maritime injury attorney.  If your injuries were related to negligence, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for your injuries and any related expenses.  Examples of negligence include:

  • Cruise staff leaving objects in walkways
  • Cruise staff failing to warn passengers about a danger or hazard
  • Ships operating in unsafe weather conditions
  • Improperly maintained furnishings or equipment
  • Improperly operated activities or equipment
  • Cruise ship operators not paying attention

These are only a few examples of how negligence can result in a cruise ship injury.  If you have suffered an injury in a similar circumstance, Call Maritime Injury Guide to request a free consultation with one of our legal professionals.  Call us at 866-871-8422, or contact us online.