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Brett Rivkind
Brett Rivkind
Attorney • (305) 374-0565

Hurricane Rina Gains Strength and Forces Cruise Ships to Alter Itineraries

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Due to the projected track of Hurricane Rina and the fact it is gaining strength, it has been reported that many cruise ships have had to change their itineraries in effort to avoid the path of the storm.

Mexican authorities are reported to have set up emergency shelters as the cruise ships shifted their course, with the reports that Hurricane Rina has strengthen off the Caribbean Coast with a projected track that has it heading through Cancun and the Mayan Rivera, which is Mexico’s most popular tourist destination.

The reports are that Hurricane Rina is packing maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. This makes it a Category 2 storm.

It is predicted that the storm will strengthen even further as it gets closer to the Mexican Coast on Wednesday night.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ spokesman, Vance Gulliksen reported that at least eight cruise ships had changed itineraries as a result of the storm. It was also reported that three other cruise ships from Norwegian and one from Royal Caribbean have cancelled their Friday port of call in the area of Cancun.

Cruise ships continue to leave port despite hurricanes being present in the Caribbean, and work toward changing itineraries in an effort to avoid the impact of the storms. There have been many cases where the cruise ships, although altering their itineraries in an attempt to avoid the path of the storm, still end up meeting extremely rough seas, resulting in damages to the vessel, as well as personal injuries to the passengers. Besides being an unpleasant cruise ship experience when there is a hurricane anywhere nearby, the increased seas can pose a safety threat to passengers. Despite modern technology, and stabilizers on cruise ships designed to keep these massive cruise ships more stable during these rough seas, the stabilizers simply do not provide much safety assistance when the seas reach a certain height. The captain must navigate the vessel as best as possible to avoid the impacts of high seas.

We have previously reported that cruise ships are reluctant to ever cancel a cruise due to a storm. It causes a severe loss of revenue. Instead, the cruise ship companies will cancel certain port of calls, and attempt to navigate the cruise ship away from the storm. This often results in, at the very least, an extremely disappointing and unpleasant cruise.

Cruise ships also issue passenger tickets with numerous terms and conditions contained in these passenger tickets that limit their liability for all types of incidents, including any liability for cancellation of scheduled ports or changes in the itinerary.

A cruise ship company can be held liable for accidents caused during severe weather conditions that the cruise ship encounters. There are several theories of liability to pursue. Most of the time the cruise ship companies argue that their ships are so large that they don’t have to fear high seas. However, our experience has been that despite the massive size of these cruise ships, they are still susceptible to a lot of movement during high seas, and this movement of these large ships does pose a safety threat to passengers.

Our firm previously handled a case in which a cruise ship company, Windjammer Cruises, which operated renovated large sailing type vessels as passenger cruise ships, deliberately tried to outmaneuver a serious hurricane and was unable to do so and the ship sank losing all of the crewmembers. We all know that storms don’t always follow their projected paths, and the last thing one wants to encounter when on a cruise ship is a situation where the storm takes an unexpected turn and the cruise ship finds itself directly in the path of one of these severe storms.

Our firm continues to be safety advocates for passengers and crewmembers harmed at sea.