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It has been reported that a 79-year-old United States citizen who was a passenger onboard a Carnival Cruise Line cruise ship, named the Fantasy, died during a snorkeling excursion in Bermuda.

This tragedy is only one of many that have happened to passengers aboard cruise ships during shoreside excursions in other countries. Over the years, the cruise ship companies have inserted into the passenger tickets provisions indicating that any shoreside excursions are being operated by independent contractors, for which the cruise ship companies will deny liability for any of their negligence.

Despite the fact that the cruise ship companies sell these shoreside excursions, and in fact profit from the sales of these shoreside excursions, the law has recognized the shoreside excursion operators as independent contractors, and the cruise ship companies have been able to avoid liability for the negligence of these shoreside excursion companies, absent proof of independent negligence on the part of the cruise ship company.

In order to impose liability on the cruise ship company, it is necessary to show that the cruise ship company had knowledge of a dangerous condition, and failed to warn or take appropriate action. In addition, the selection of the shoreside excursion companies can be negligently made by the cruise ship companies. The contractual arrangements between a shoreside excursion company and a cruise ship company must be explored to see if any legal theories can be developed against the cruise ship company, and if it is possible to sue the shoreside excursion company here in the United States. Often times there will be insurance coverage for incidents that occur with the shoreside excursion companies.

We have not yet learned the details regarding this particular tragedy, and we’ll report further when we do obtain additional information.

Our firm continues to act as safety advocates for both passengers and crewmembers who are harmed at sea.

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