Near-Drowning of 8-Year-Old Boy on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Again Highlights the Need for Lifeguards

cruise poolWe have previously reported about drownings on cruise ships. We believe this is a major problem that needs to be addressed. We have handled too many cruise ship drowning cases that we believe could have been prevented.

The most recent tragedy we have learned of is the near drowning of an 8-year-old boy yesterday evening while on board Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. According to various news outlets, the boy was found unconscious in one of the ship’s swimming pools, after at least 18 minutes without oxygen. Because additional medical attention was required, the ship altered its course and returned to its New Jersey port. Currently, the child is at Staten Island University Hospital on life support.

Maritime attorney Brett Rivkind previously spoke before the United States Congress on cruise ship safety and security. He urged Congress to closely analyze the cruise ship industry, their self-regulation, the laws that apply to them, and the laws that do not apply to them. Without strong safety legislation, passengers have to rely on the cruise ship industry itself to address many of the safety risks that are present on board these ships. Historically, we believe that this is a terrible method to assure safety for passengers, as the cruise ship companies are worried about their image and their profits. Therefore, safety often gets ignored in favor of profits.

One major issue is whether cruise ship companies should be required to have lifeguards present on board their ships. We believe they should. There are major swimming attractions on board the cruise ships that are there to attract passengers, including young children. Additionally, there are thousands of passengers on board these large cruise ships, often times creating a somewhat chaotic atmosphere.

Many times a drowning about to happen is not easily spotted by an untrained individual. Properly trained lifeguards look for situations that could put children at risk for drowning, and take precautionary measures before a drowning happens. In addition, lifeguards are trained to recognize an actual drowning that is occurring, while a layperson may not even notice the drowning until it is too late. Of course, lifeguards are then trained to rescue when there is a drowning situation. To us, there is no excuse for not having lifeguards present on board the cruise ships.

Why do the cruise ship companies continue to not employ lifeguards on board their ships despite these drownings which keep on occurring? Maybe just for the same reason the cruise ship companies have failed to implement available technology to address passengers and crew members going overboard on a cruise ship, which would assist in early detection and a quicker rescue effort.  Is it because of the usual profits over safety mentality? We believe so.

The same is true of placement of lifeguards on board cruise ships. Why not? Lifeguards will cost money; more employees to train, more employees to pay, and more employees occupying valuable cabin space, taking away from the sales of passenger tickets.

One can read about Ellis and Associates, a company providing lifeguard training, as well as look at the materials the Red Cross has available about drownings to easily ascertain that drownings are preventable but require trained lifeguards to recognize a drowning situation, as well as trained lifeguards who know how to promptly respond to a drowning situation.

We are very saddened to hear of the near drowning of this young child. We hope that there will be justice, the cruise ship company will be held accountable for failure to have lifeguards, and some good will come by increasing the pressure on the cruise ship industry to uniformly place lifeguards on cruise ships.

Our maritime law firm has been handling cases with the cruise ship industry since 1983. We continue to act as safety advocates for those who are injured or harmed at sea, and are available for free consultations on maritime safety and security issues.