Historically, cruise ships have had a hands-off policy on the safety of swimmers in their pool and hot tub areas. However, after several drownings or near-drownings in recent years, things are changing.
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas was the first in a series of ships to add lifeguards to their children and family swim areas. The lack of lifeguards on cruise ships and hotels has over time become a contentious issue. The providers tend to stress parental supervision in lieu of certified lifeguard staff. However, after a series of passengers—mostly children—have died from drowning, changes are being made.
Royal Caribbean was the first line to employ lifeguards on duty in their Kid’s Zone swim areas after several drowning accidents. They are now also employing the crew members in adult-only pool areas. Carnival Cruise and Norwegian Cruise Lines quickly followed.
While the victims drowned in a swimming pool, the drowning incidents happened in swimming pools aboard a ship at sea, so maritime law applies. Cruise ship pools have been the scene of numerous drownings and injuries and drownings on a cruise are, legally speaking, far different than those which happen in pools on land. For this reason, should you or a loved one suffer an incident on a cruise ship it’s important to contact an attorney who is experienced with maritime law and knowledgeable of the intricacies of dealing with such a case.