Cruise Ship Safety Statistics

Taking a cruise may seem like the adventure of a lifetime, but here are some cruise ship safety statistics and information that consumers should know before deciding to embark.  These statistics and information could be helpful for consumers who are concerned about cruise ship safety and want to ensure that their adventure doesn’t turn into a disaster.

Cruise Ship Safety Information

Cruise ship operation and safety is overseen by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United States Coast Guard, and the companies operating the ships.  Unfortunately, these organizations have not implemented a comprehensive, consistent database documenting incidents or accidents occurring at sea.  For consumers, that means there is no public database to review cruise ship safety or incidents.

While there are safety guidelines and regulations for cruise ship operators, for many years, there has been little consistent and systematic gathering of data to explore cruise ship safety and accidents.  Another problem with obtaining accurate safety statistics is the fact that cruise lines are essentially outsourced.  Most ships are incorporated and registered overseas, which means there is little oversight beyond the state under which the ship is operated.

While organizations and regulatory agencies may not operate a comprehensive database, there are other sources focused on gathering information and providing the public with much-needed information about safety.

If you are concerned about your safety, take the time to do some research before deciding to take a cruise trip.  If you want to learn more about how accidents at sea are managed, or what you should do if you have been injured while on a cruise, contact Maritime Injury Guide.  Our maritime injury attorneys can help ensure your legal rights are protected.

Cruise Ship Safety Statistics

Gathering research and reports from the U.S.  Department of Transportation (DOT), National Geographic, BBC, and, here are some of the statistics that consumers should know before buying those cruise tickets:

  • According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), between 2005 and 2011, there were 100 million passengers on cruise ships.
  • Since 2005, there have been 448 major cruise ship accidents reported.
  • Between 2005 and 2011, 16 people died in cruise ship accidents.
  • Since 2000, around 300 people on cruise ships have fallen overboard. There were 17 overboard incidents in 2017 alone.
  • Between 1979 and 2013, 55 cruise vessels sank, with 15 of those occurring between 2010 and 2013.
  • From 1972 to 2011, 98 cruise ships ran aground. Between 2005 and 2013, 66 passenger ships reportedly ran aground.
  • In 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, there were around 100 serious crimes reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The most common crime was sexual assault, of which there were 72 incidents reported over that 15-month period.

Not only are accidents like those above a concern, but so are illnesses, which can quickly spread and contaminate thousands of people.  Consider these statistics about illnesses on cruise ships:

  • Between 2010 and 2011, there were 14 outbreaks of gastrointestinal viruses on cruise ships.
  • In 2012, there were 16 gastrointestinal illness outbreaks.
  • In 2013, there were nine outbreaks.
  • Norovirus is considered the most likely cause of illness on cruise ships. Every year in the U.S., there are an estimated 19-21 million cases causing over 56,000 hospitalizations.

Cruise Ship Safety Concerns

Based on research and reports that are available, here are some of the most common cruise ship safety concerns:

  • Loss of power resulting in being adrift at sea
  • Evacuation due to fire, collision, sinking, or other incidents
  • Fire (there were around 79 fires on cruise ships between 1990 and 2011)
  • Plumbing issues (overflowing toilets, etc.)
  • Spread of viruses, such as norovirus.
  • Improper sanitation
  • Running aground
  • Sinking
  • Crime

These are some of the causes of cruise ship accidents that have made national headlines, such as:

  • Costa Concordia: In 2012, the Costa Concordia ship sank after running aground near Tuscany. The cruise ship – incredible in size and amenities – was carrying 4,200 people including passengers and crew.  After running aground, the ship began to sink, causing those onboard to flee.  The accident resulted in 32 deaths and numerous injuries, not to mention the mental and emotional trauma suffered by everyone involved.  The Costa Concordia is the largest cruise ship ever to wreck.
  • Triumph: In 2013, a fire in the Triumph’s engine room shut down power, sewage, and air conditioning systems throughout the ship. The fire left the 4,200 passengers essentially stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for days.  Passengers were forced to endure few food options, raw sewage seeping through the ship, and delays in rescue.
  • Pacific Dawn: In April 2018, a passenger on board the P&O Pacific Dawn fell overboard west of New Caledonia. The crew immediately initiated a “man overboard” protocol, and turned the ship around.  Nearby vessels responded and aided in the search for the woman, but she was never found.  Weather conditions were poor with strong winds and 3-4 meter swells.
  • Explorer of the Seas: In 2014, around 600 people became ill with a severe gastrointestinal illness. So many people were sick that the cruise returned to port early.
  • Emerald Princess: Around five percent of all passengers came down with what was dubbed a “gastrointestinal flu”. These individuals were quarantined, and were warned of “unnamed consequences” if they tried to leave their rooms.  Hardly the dream vacation.

Protect Your Rights on Cruise Ship Voyages

Whether you are an employee, crew member, or passenger of a cruise ship, you deserve a safe and healthy environment.  If you have been injured or become ill while on a cruise ship and you believe that negligence contributed to the harm you suffered, it is important to learn more about your options.  At Maritime Injury Guide, we can help you understand your legal rights as an employee, or as a passenger.  Fill out our online form to schedule a free injury consultation.