News outlets have reported this week that a young Israeli couple on their honeymoon aboard the Allure of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, decided to try zip-lining during one of the ship’s port visits in Roatán, Honduras. What was intended to be the beginning of a long happy life together turned into tragedy as the result of apparent negligence on behalf of the cruise ship.
While ziplining over a treetop canopy on July 5, 27-year-old Shif Fanken got stuck and stopped halfway down the cable when her husband, 24-year-old Egael Tishman, was released by staff members down the zip-line, resulting in a collision. The couple was rushed to the hospital where the husband died from his injuries. The wife is currently recovering in a hospital in Florida. The cause of the accident is still under investigation. At this time, the safety history and track record of the operator is unknown, nor do we know what knowledge the cruise ship company had previously gathered about the operator prior to the incident.
Onboard Activities & Shore Excursions During Cruises
Cruise ship companies, including Royal Caribbean, have increasingly been offering passengers the option of thrilling and exciting offshore activities, some of which can be very dangerous. Additionally, many other potentially hazardous activities are offered while on board the ship, in addition to the ports of destination in foreign countries. For example, the major cruise lines now offer large water parks on board their ships, with high-speed slides. Royal Caribbean’s fleet offers an activity called the FlowRider that simulates surfing in a small area, often times resulting in passengers falling and suffering significant injuries. In a recent case we handled, a passenger was severely injured on a cruise ship waterslide when he was released by staff with another passenger stuck inside, resulting in a serious collision.
Accidents During Cruise Excursions Are More Common Than You Think
This is sadly not the first cruise ship shore excursion zip-lining accident, as there have been many reported zip-lining accidents in foreign countries, often involving malfunctioning of equipment or poor operation. In fact, only three years ago, a woman was also injured while ziplining during a Royal Caribbean shore excursion also in Roatan, Honduras. Ten years ago another woman died during a NCL sponsored zip-lining excursion, also in Roatan, Honduras. At this time, whether it was the same zip lining company is unknown. What we do know is that Royal Caribbean advertises the tour as the “Adrenaline Zip-Line Adventure” on its website. However, the name of the third-party tour operator is not listed.
Cruise Ship Excursion Accident Attorneys with Experience
The law firm of Rivkind & Margulies, P.A., is representing, and has successfully represented, many cruise ship passengers who were injured or killed during shoreside excursions. We are currently representing passengers severely injured during a bus accident in New Zealand while on a shoreside excursion during a Celebrity Cruise, which is owned by Royal Caribbean. They were transported on very treacherous roads by a transportation company with a bad safety history, and we are seeking to hold the cruise ship company liable for selling the tickets to this excursion, encouraging the passengers only to buy the excursions directly from them on the basis that the cruise ship company vets these companies and it is safer to buy directly from them. We are also seeking to hold Celebrity liable for failing to properly vet the transportation company, failing to warn passengers of the unsafe history, and at the same time falsely representing to passengers the company utilized only the highest quality transportation services.
Can Cruises Ensure Their Shore Excursions Are Safe?
Passengers are often led to believe that the shore excursions recommended by the cruise ship companies come with a certain level of safety because they are promoted and sold directly by the cruise ship company. However, this is not always true. The cruise lines do not always vet these companies and often provide a false sense of security to passengers. In the case of the New Zealand bus accident, the transportation company was recommended as being of the “highest quality”, yet this transportation company involved in the accident had been involved in multiple prior incidents, including a serious incident that resulted in a criminal prosecution.
What Caused This Zip-Lining Tragedy in Honduras?
In this particular case, at this time, it is unclear whether the cruise ship company properly investigated the company operating the zip lining that they were recommending to their passengers. We do not know yet whether this newlywed couple relied to their detriment on the belief that Royal Caribbean Cruise lines would only take them to places and recommend activities that were properly operated and in conformity with certain safety standards.
We have learned with the increasing number of crew ships and passengers at sail every year, that unfortunately companies in foreign countries operating activities for the cruise ship passengers do not always conform to the same safety standards that are present here in the United States. In addition, passengers unfortunately learned that when an accident does happen in a foreign country during the cruise, the cruise ship company may not accept responsibility, and may in fact take the position that they have no responsibility at all for the accident.
What Recourses Do People Who Are Injured during a Cruise-Sponsored Shore Excursion Have?
There are maritime laws that apply to accidents that occur during shoreside excursions in foreign countries. The cruise ship company also attempts to disclaim liability in the passenger ticket, as well as in the tickets they sell to the passengers for shoreside excursions. An experienced maritime lawyer is able to navigate the defenses the cruise ship company will raise any time a passenger seeks recovery for an injury or death that occurs in a foreign country during a shoreside activity. If you or a loved one have been injured or harmed during a cruise ship shore excursion, it is important to speak with a cruise ship attorney who has experience litigating on behalf of victims injured during foreign excursions.
Brett Rivkind has been handling maritime cases since 1983 and has been an invited speaker before the United States Congress to address cruise ship safety and security laws. The law firm of Rivkind and Margulies, P.A., is available to help you if you have been the victim of any type of incident that occurs at sea, including during any type of boating/ cruise ship shore excursion.