In yet another tragedy involving cruise ship passengers injured or killed while on a shore side excursion, it has been reported that two seaplanes, also known as floatplanes, crashed in a mid-air collision near Ketchikan, Alaska yesterday afternoon. There were a total of 16 people on board the two planes, ten having since been accounted for. At least four passengers were killed and the search is still ongoing for two others that are still missing.
The floatplanes were carrying cruise ship passengers from the Royal Princess cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises, which is based in Los Angeles, California. The Royal Princess cruise ship was visiting Ketchikan on its way from Vancouver, B.C. to Anchorage Alaska. Princess Cruises offers excursions with the floatplanes to its passengers which can be found on its website and in its promotional materials.
We have reported on many incidents involving serious accidents and deaths that occurred during excursions while onboard a cruise. A frequent issue that arises is whether the cruise ship company has liability for the excursion or if the excursion company is considered independent from the cruise ship company and therefore the cruise ship company can avoid any accountability for an accident during the excursion. Other frequent issues which arise are how safe these shore excursions are for the cruise ship passengers, whether there is a known history raising safety concerns the cruise ship company should have known about, and if so, whether the cruise ship company was negligent by continuing to sell the excursions while failing to warn the passengers of the known dangers associated with the excursion.
We have handled many tragic accidents involving shore excursions during a cruise. We recently represented family members who were injured during a shoreside excursion in Mexico when the bus they were traveling on ran off the road and turned over, resulting in the death of 12 cruise ship passengers. We also handled a similar case involving serious injuries that happened during a shoreside excursion in New Zealand when the bus transporting the passengers ran off the road and flipped over. These cases were against Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, respectively.
At this point, what we know is that the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating what happened here as the incident does involve United States passengers. We also know that one of the planes carrying four people from the cruise was an independent tour operated by Mountain Air Service and the other plane carrying ten guests from the cruise ship was operated by Taquan Air. According to news reports,the Taquan Air tour was booked through Princess Cruises and the Mountain Air Service flight was booked independently. The Taquan Air flight was returning from a Misty Fjords tour, which is one of the most popular shore excursions for cruise ship passengers visiting Ketchikan. Princess Cruises sells and promotes three different floatplane tours for its passengers in Ketchikan.
We send our heartfelt wishes to all those involved in this incident and our condolences to the family members who lost loved ones during this tragedy.