Earlier this year a tour boat sank off the coast of Mexico. The boat was carrying passengers from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on a diving excursion, and the sinking put the 10 travelers aboard the boat in mortal jeopardy. Thankfully, everyone survived.
No one died in this case, but just a month earlier 12 people, also on excursion from a Royal Caribbean cruise, lost their lives in a tragic bus crash in Mexico. Though many travelers may be unaware of this, often times cruise companies are just as liable for excursion injuries and deaths as the excursion operators.
Cruise lines often strike deals with excursion operators. Not surprisingly, cruise companies have most the of leverage in such agreements; they bring the passengers to shore and can direct them to their favored shops, vendors, and excursion operators. This power dynamic often allows cruise lines to terminate the relationships at any time and for any reason but locks the tour operators into a contract that is hard to leave.
The power dynamic between cruise companies and excursion operators means that the cruise lines can modify and veto excursion plans. Cruise officials can effectively say “we like the part where the passengers will take a hike, but we don’t like the zip line. Please remove it.” And the tour operators are effectively powerless to say no.
Cruise companies advertise to their passengers that their tour operator partners offer safe and secure adventures. For example, on Celebrity Cruises’ website the company says that its “excursion partners comply with the highest safety standards in the industry.” But despite these reassurances, the operators frequently conduct the excursions in extremely dangerous manners.
For those who have been injured during a cruise excursion, there are legal theories which can significantly increase the chances of winning in court. These cases require skilled legal representation, and under the right circumstances can be won.