As a cruise ship passenger injury attorney, I report about cruise line safety and how to prevent accidents that are caused by people slipping on wet surfaces or tripping because of poor deck maintenance or inadequate lighting on the gangway.

This week a 12-year-old boy was airlifted to an Orlando hospital after tripping and falling onboard the Carnival Sensation while the ship was at sea. The boy was evaluated and cared for by Carnival’s medical team until the Sensation docked at Port Canaveral, Florida. From there he was airlifted to the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando. The Carnival Sensation operates year-round three- and four-day cruises to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral.

Currently our firm is Suing Royal Caribbean Cruise Line on behalf of a 9-year-old boy and his family from Shanghai, who were on board Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas. The family placed the boy in the care of the ship’s onboard kid’s club. While playing, the boy violently collided with another child passenger and suffered a traumatic brain injury that required a life-saving brain surgery to be performed in the Bahamas. We have alleged that the game was inadequately supervised and conducted by the cruise line’s employees.


I realize that some kinds of accidents aboard a cruise ship unavoidable, but in my opinion, having sued cruise lines for more than twenty years, most are easily preventable, such as ship-wide outbreaks of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea caused by poor sanitary conditions.

Therefore, I believe that the most important safety issue you should know about before your cruise ship weighs anchor is the risk of illness from exposure to contaminated food, water, or person-to-person contact at close proximity due to high volumes of people; such conditions can cause severe gastrointestinal illnesses.

For example, the Norovirus is an extremely contagious virus associated with cruise ships because passengers can become infected by either another person, food, water, or by simply touching a contaminated surface, such as a slot machine handle or even the door to their own stateroom. The typical symptoms of the Norovirus are crushing stomach pain, diarrhea, and projectile vomiting. The Norovirus is especially serious for young children and elderly passengers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in the United States last year more than 70,000 people were hospitalized, and 800 died from the Norovirus, making it the single most common food-borne disease in the United States. Currently there is no cure for the Norovirus since it cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral infection, not bacterial.

The CDC is working directly with the cruise industry by implementing programs to prevent and control the spread of the Norovirus onboard cruise ships with the creation of the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP). The VSP is authorized by a Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. Section 264 Quarantine and Inspection Regulations to Control Communicable Diseases) and operates as part of the National Center for Environmental Health’s Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services.

At the core of the VSP’s initiatives is prevention by education and inspection. The education programs are specifically designed to educate the cruise ship industry, from the executives to the crew, on following the best public health practices as defined in the policies and procedures of the VSPs Operation Manual. The CDC also conducts periodic onboard inspections.


Depending on the ship’s size, one to four CDC inspectors will board the ship unannounced, while it is in a U.S. port, twice a year to verify if the ship is maintaining sanitation standards in accordance with the VSP’s Operation Manual. Ships are graded on a scale, and CDC inspections include . . .

Medical facilities to review medical logs and records.

  1. Water systems.
  2. Swimming pools, waterslides and Jacuzzis.
  3. Galleys and dining rooms, including how the dishes and utensils are cleaned.
  4. Kids clubs, especially diaper-changing stations and hand-washing stations.
  5. Hotel operations for infection control, prevention, and outbreak procedures.
  6. Ventilation and air conditioner filters.

At the end of the inspection, CDC officials meet with the ship’s captain to discuss the inspection, any violations, and provide a copy of the report. A report is also sent to the cruise line’s corporate office.

Cruise ships are graded by the CDC on the following scale:

86 or higher (Satisfactory Scores)85 or lower (NOT Satisfactory Scores)

Recently the worst inspections score I have seen belongs to the MS Columbus which is operated by Hapag Lloyd Kreuzfahrten Gmbh and obtained an inspection score of 69 for a multitude of violations, ranging from the orange juice machine in the buffet to the way that the drinking water was tested–or rather not tested. To read the entire report Click Here.

Celebrity Cruise Line, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, recently received a pitiful score of 78 due to the improper handling of five separate cruises, The inspections revealed that there were six crew members suffering Acute Gastrointestinal (AGE) symptoms, and rather than being quarantined, they were forced to continue working.

Earlier this year, Carnival’s Fascination failed its CDC inspection when inspectors found exposed food items on the top shelf of a buffet area not protected by a sneeze guard; a pulper in a food preparation room was heavily soiled with food waste; the drain below a juice dispenser in the service prep room was inaccessible for cleaning, and when opened was found to be filthy, with several small flies and a roach nymph near the drain.

Learn more about how to avoid getting the Norovirus Infection on your cruise, or to see how how safe is your cruise ship based upon its most recent CDC inspection.

Our lawyers are experienced in making claims against cruise ships on behalf of passengers. We offer a free legal consultation to any passengers who believe they been injured because of the neglect or carelessness of a cruise line around the world. In fact, most cruise ship require that any case against them be filed here in Miami regardless of where in the world the event happened.

It is important to know, that cruise ships claims have a one-year statute of limitation, so if you have a potential case, do not wait to consult with an attorney who sues cruise ships. We are available to answer your questions: please call our office in South Florida at 305-441-0440 or Toll Free at 866-597-4529 or Email me Spencer Aronfeld

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