Investigation Ongoing About Fatal Blue Lagoon Ferry Accident in the Bahamas

Investigation Ongoing About Fatal Blue Lagoon Ferry Accident in the BahamasCruise ships cannot dock at certain ports. That is because the port channel and basin are too shallow or the pier and the cleats and other structures on the pier are too small to handle massive cruise ships. At these ports, the cruise ships anchor outside the immediate port waters. The cruise ship uses its lifeboats or contracts with companies to carry cruise passengers from the ship to shore and back.  The cruise line is responsible for getting its passengers from ship to shore and back regardless of whether the cruise line “tenders” the passengers themselves or whether the cruise line contracts with a third party to do this.

As everyone knows, cruise lines sell excursions. These excursions are joint ventures between the cruise line and the excursion company. Both profit from each of the passengers who sign up for and pay for the excursion.  And the cruise lines advertise and promote the excursions on the cruise line’s websites and in their brochures describing the excursions.

In Nassau, The Bahamas, cruise lines sell excursions to the Blue Lagoon Island, an island owned by a local family. The island provides transportation by a tender boat from the island to the Nassau Pier and vice versa. The cruise lines that sell excursions to this island and rely on the tender boats of the island include Carnival,  Disney, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean.

But the excursion companies which provide the transportation of cruise passengers to their island are also responsible for the safety of the cruise passengers The excursion company and the cruise lines should take the weather and sea conditions into account when promoting these excursions and when allowing the excursion company to transport cruise passengers.  That goes for all ports where cruise passengers are being transported by a tender or smaller boat to any island or other place, structure, or vessel.

On Tuesday, November 14, 2023, a double-decker ferry carrying about 140 cruise passengers to Blue Lagoon Island sank outside of Nassau Harbor in The Bahamas. Tragically, one passenger, a 75-year-old woman, died as a result of the incident.

The ferry was the Islander III, which is part of a fleet owned by a registered business on the island.

USA TODAY reports:

Frightening video taken from the scene shows passengers wearing orange life vests around their necks, clinging to one side of the ferry as the vessel sinks into Caribbean turquoise waters.


At one point, people are seen jumping off what appears to be the back of the boat into the water as others on board continue to shout. About a half dozen people in the shot are seen swimming towards another boat stopped a short distance from the ferry.


When water began pouring into the boat, many passengers were waiting for instruction from crew members, but they reportedly did not give any. So when they saw someone jump into the rough water… they followed in suit with life jackets and swam to a nearby boat until other boats arrived to help in the rescue effort.

One passenger said that the people on the ferry were waiting for the operators to tell them what to do, but no one did. No one offered any help or instructions. So, the ferry passengers started jumping off the boat. She said “You wonder why people didn’t jump in right away. We were kind of waiting for the staff to tell us what to do, which they never did because they were too busy crying and freaking out.” Another passenger said the captain never turned the boat’s engines off, and that she and others “were scared to swim out the back due to the propeller.”

Chrislyn Skippings, Chief Superintendent of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, told the Nassau Guardian “It is reported that a half hour into the ride, the vessel experienced rough seas in the area, which resulted in the boat taking on water and becoming submerged in waters just outside of Blue Lagoon.”

Hickey Law Firm specializes in “life changing injuries”®. 800.215.7117

Hickey Law Firm handles these types of cases. We sue the cruise lines for issues with these ferries, and we also sue other ferries. It is a known problem as far as safety standards with these ferries.

We are currently pursuing a case against Royal Caribbean forthe negligence of the Blue Lagoon Ferry.  In that case, our  client booked one of the Dolphin Encounters excursions on Blue Lagoon Island. The ferry or tender operators pulled up to the same area on the pier that they always pull the boat up to. But the pier at that location has concrete slabs that are about 18 to 24” tall and which are designed to prevent vehicles on land from driving into the water.  Because of these slabs, each passenger getting off of the ferry at that location, has only about a 4-inch wide area to put their foot down to get a stronghold on the pier. As the cruise line knows, the ferry does not use a ramp in that area to allow cruise passengers to safely walk from the boat to shore or vice versa. The ferry employees typically do not offer assistance, and they did not in this case, or physically cannot offer assistance. They often cannot offer assistance because at that location there is nowhere for the crewmember on the pier to stand and assist the passenger exiting (“disembarking”) the ship. In one of our cases, the cruise line’s ferry service chose to go to that area of the pier, did not provide a ramp to go from boat to pier, and did not provide in-person assistance in getting the passenger off.

Our client fell while trying to disembark from the Blue Lagoon Island ferry. She sustained severe injuries. There were no warnings, and no one helped her.

Cases against cruise lines are different.  First and foremost, maritime law applies to the case, generally not state law.  Second, the passenger is required to file suit where the ticket says you do. For the big three cruise lines and others, that is in Federal Court either in Miami (Port Miami) or Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades).  Third, these cases require knowledge about the operation of a cruise ship and a cruise line.  It is necessary to know the mechanical and electrical systems onboard ships, but also the other physical systems as well as people systems.  This firm has been involved in this kind of claim for over 35 years.

About Hickey Law Firm

The Best Lawyers in America® recognizes John H. (Jack) Hickey in three areas: Admiralty and Maritime Law, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, and Medical Malpractice – Plaintiffs. Hickey Law Firm was also recognized by Best Law Firms as a Tier 1 firm in these same practice areas for 2024.

Hickey is double Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Admiralty and Maritime and Civil Trial Law. In addition, he’s also Board Certified in Civil Trial by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA). Finally, he specializes in personal injury and wrongful death.

To schedule a free consultation with a cruise ship accident lawyer from Hickey Law Firm, just call our offices or fill out our contact form. We help people throughout the country. The initial consultation is free, and you don’t pay until after we win your case.