On May 8, 2013 the Carnival cruise ship Triumph left a port in the U.S. that it had been towed into in February after an engine room fire had disabled the ship. The engine room fire left passengers on the ship stranded at sea for five days in what many described as horrific conditions. The ship is supposed to go to the Bahamas for further repairs and then launch a new cruise from Galveston, TX in June 2013. The Triumph’s return to service calls attention to the dangers that cruise ship passengers can face during what is supposed to be a relaxing vacation.
Passengers stranded for five days
The 900-foot-long Triumph was sailing in the Gulf of Mexico when a fire broke out in the engine room on February 10, 2013. The crew contained the fire and put it out quickly, but the fire damaged the ship’s power systems that controlled the lights, air conditioning, kitchen equipment, toilets and elevators. The freshwater systems on the Triumph also failed for a time.
Some of the more than 3,100 passengers on the Triumph described the conditions on the ship during the five days that passed before being rescued as miserable. Because the toilets stopped working, many of them overflowed and spilled human waste onto the floors and into the hallways. Passengers endured long lines for food and shortages of water. Many ended up sleeping on deck to try to escape the stifling heat and stench below deck.
The Triumph’s problems did not end after it was towed into a port on February 15, 2013. In April, the ship broke loose from its moorings when a storm hit the port where it was docked. One dock worker died after the force of the storm swept him into the water. The ship sustained further damages, as well.
Recovering for cruise ship injuries
Injuries can occur for a variety of reasons on cruise ships. For example, passengers can fall on slippery decks; crew members may assault passengers; pathways leading on and off the boat can be slippery or uneven, causing falls; equipment can malfunction. Passengers who suffer injuries while on cruises should be aware of their rights. Passengers may recover for medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation expenses and pain and suffering.
Passengers need to understand that their claims are most likely governed by a different set of laws than personal injury claims that stem from events occurring on land. The ticket for a cruise is also a contract, which may put limitations on passengers’ recovery for injury. Many impose strict time limitations for filing claims, often barring claims after one year. International laws may also dictate terms of how a passenger must proceed in filing injury claims.
It is imperative that those seeking to file claims for injuries sustained on cruise ships have the assistance of an attorney with a thorough knowledge of maritime law in order to ensure that their claims proceed properly.