MIAMI, Florida–On January 14, 2016, passengers from Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas were onboard a tour bus operated by a shore excursion company in Jamaica, when the tour bus collided with the truck, causing the bus to flip over multiple times. The passengers were on their way back from a day excursion to Jamaica’s Dunn River Falls. It was reported that the driver of the tour bus operator was driving recklessly on winding roads, when the collision occurred. Passengers were noted to have complained during the ride that they were concerned that the driver was operating the bus dangerously. The answer they received that drivers in Jamaica are known for driving erratically, especially around winding roads, and the manner in which the bus operator was driving was normal for Jamaica.
As a result of this tragic accident, a passenger was killed and a dozen more were injured. The shore excursion the passengers were participating in was operated by a third party in Jamaica. One might ask what responsibility the cruise ship company has when a third party operating an excursion company acts negligently, or even recklessly, causing injury or death to the passengers of the cruise ship company? A recent lawsuit filed in the Federal District Court in Miami, Florida on behalf of these passengers will address this legal issue, which is the liability of the cruise ship company for the acts of this shore excursion company, who the cruise company will assert is an independent contractor for which they have no legal liability for.
However, the passengers will try to establish the link with the cruise company by proving that the cruise ship company promoted the shore side excursion, and provided representations that the cruise line had determined that the excursion company was safe and there were no dangers to their passengers. The passengers will point to representations made on the website of the cruise company about shore side excursions that the cruise company recommends based on their experience. The cruise company even suggests that passengers not book port excursions off the ship because the cruise lines will only recommend reputable companies and it is safer to book the excursions directly with them. The appearances that the cruise line is involved with the excursion company, and the representations made suggest that the cruise ship company has determined the excursions to be safe and that the passengers can rely on the cruise’s experience and expertise with the various excursion companies available at the different ports the cruise takes their passengers to.