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The recent bus accident involving Royal Caribbean and Celebrity passengers in Mexico raises questions as to a cruise ship company’s liability for an accident or death that happens during a shore excursion at a foreign port of call. Our shore excursion accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A., frequently handle cases involving serious injuries and deaths during cruise-sponsored excursions.
The cruise ship company typically claims they are not responsible because the excursion companies are independent contractors. However, the cruise ship companies promote and sell these shore excursions both before and during the cruise voyage. In addition, the cruise lines represent that any operators involved in the excursion have been properly vetted and they urge the passengers to purchase the excursions directly from them. The message being that based on their expertise, experience and knowledge, this is the safer route for the passengers to take rather than explore the different ports of call independently: “our Shore Excursions are led by insured, knowledgeable, and experienced tour operators who adhere to the highest safety standards in the industry. When opting for individual transportation or tours, Celebrity Cruises does not assume responsibility for any accidents or injuries, for the actions of local drivers, and does not supervise drivers to ensure safety,” as is stated on a Caribbean shore excursion brochure for a Celebrity Equinox voyage departing on December 30. However, when something tragic happens during an excursion, the cruise ship company claims that the excursion companies are independent contractors, not an agent of the cruise line, and they attempt to avoid liability to the passengers for any injuries or deaths.
This is what likely what will happen in the case involving the tour bus accident in Mexico that killed 11 passengers and a Mexican tour guide on its way to the Mayan ruins during a cruise-sponsored excursion. An experienced maritime lawyer will be able to assert legal theories under the maritime law to hold the cruise ship company accountable for this tragedy. There are several different theories of liability to assert against the cruise ship company and defeat their argument that they have no responsibility because the excursion company is an independent contractor. The cruise lines have a legal responsibility to warn of dangers at their ports of calls they knew or should have known about and to also properly vet their excursion operators. We are experienced in handling these types of cases and making the necessary arguments to hold the cruise ship company responsible.
Sadly, there have been many shore excursion bus accidents involving Celebrity and Royal Caribbean passengers in the last few years. In fact, our shore excursion accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A. recently filed suit against the same cruise ship company for a tour bus accident in New Zealand. The bus, which was carrying Celebrity Solstice passengers, crashed into an oncoming car in the opposite lane and plunged down a steep bank. In the suit, we allege the driver was speeding and driving carelessly, as the Mexican authorities have reported occurred in this case, and the company employed by Celebrity had a bad safety record.