Distressed Ship
Occasionally, a cruise ship may need to assist another cruise ship in a situation of crisis. It is not a common occurrence, but it does help to know what to expect if it happens while on your cruise.

Distress Call 

It normally starts with a distress call from the ship needing help, received by the rescuing ship. Before making the determination as to whether they can assist the ship, the cruise ship officers will try to determine whether a rescue is possible and will plot a course to get to the stranded ship. Not many people realize that the captain has an obligation to give assistance to any vessels that are in distress at sea, even if that means changing the ship’s itinerary and inconveniencing passengers.

Travel to the Distressed Ship

Once a cruise ship agrees to rescue a distressed ship, the rescuing ship will likely have to pick up speed to reach the location as fast as possible. This travel may divert the original course of the rescuing ship, which means planned stops and destinations may be changed, which will affect passengers onboard.  The captain will notify all on board regarding the change in itinerary and inform what preparations will need to be made to accommodate the passengers coming off the distressed ship.

Rescue other Cruise Ship

Preparations to Accommodate New Passengers 

It may take some time to accommodate the passengers from the distressed ship, considering the size of the vessel and how many are onboard. Many times, public rooms or open decks will be closed off prior to the passengers from the distressed vessel come onto the rescuing ship to allow for them to safely get on and off the vessels. The ship’s crew and officers will assist in making the transfer as seamless as possible.

How exactly the rescue proceeds can vary. The vessel’s rescue boats may be used to get passengers off the distressed ship. Additionally, the vessel’s shell doors near the waterline may be opened to allow passengers to board. The rescuing ship’s tender boats will also likely be used to get baggage off the distressed ship and on board the new ship.

Once the passengers from the distressed ship are safely on the new ship, depending on how long they were stranded and the conditions surrounding the incident, these passengers may need to be provided a hot meal and be examined by the ship’s doctor. The new passengers will also need to be put in any empty rooms or in a public room if no other accommodations are available, for temporary purposes. Once they reach the next port, the passengers will then be offered travel accommodations to get home.

Arrangements for Other Passengers Onboard 

Normally, the ship needing rescue will not be too far off-course from the rescuing vessel, meaning that the passengers will not be affected too significantly. The cruise will likely continue as planned once the passengers from the distressed vessel are off. Cruise lines will oftentimes issue an apology and sometimes a partial refund, depending on the level of inconvenience to the passengers onboard the rescuing ship.


If you have been injured on your cruise, on a wet and slippery deck, down a poorly lit staircase or steep gangway, in port on an excursion, or on a tender boat- it is important that you speak as soon as possible with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims against cruise lines. Most cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, MSC, Disney, Holland America, Princess, Costa, Regents Seven Seas and Oceania require that claims against them be pursued in a very specific place under very strict deadlines. Failure to comply with each individual cruise lines deadlines can result in a complete loss of any and all legal rights.

Aronfeld Trial Lawyers is a personal injury firm located in Miami, Florida since 1991.  We have fought hard to hold cruise lines accountable when they put their profits ahead of passenger safety.  We are available 24/7 and encourage you to contact us even if you are still on your cruise. The sooner we can begin our investigation and preservation of key evidence, such as the CCTV footage of your trip and fall, slip and fall, assault or other type of injury the more likely we will be able to understand and prove how the incident occurred. Remember, the cruise lines have the most aggressive and well-funded defense lawyers in the world- protecting their profits.  You need an experienced legal advocate in your corner who will fight to obtain the compensation you deserve for lost wages, medical expenses, transportation reimbursement and pain and suffering.  Call us today and speak with a cruise ship claims lawyer about your potential claim- toll free 1-866-597-4529, 305-441-0440, or by email. We are ready to help.