The information had been gathered, and the alerts had been issued and now questions are being asked regarding what the decision makers at Royal Caribbean knew that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ocean Prediction Center and other weather forecasters didn’t. On Friday, February 9, the NOAA issued an alert that there was the possibility of a storm with hurricane-force winds in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday. The Ocean Prediction Center also sent a warning at 3:34 p.m. on Saturday in its offshore waters forecast, which predicted a wind force that could range anywhere from 63 to 75 mph. The center’s prediction detailed that the conditions would continue through the night of Sunday February 11, 2016.
Should the ship’s captain have overruled the corporate decision?
In spite of the warnings and the alerts issued, the decision makers at the Royal Caribbean allowed its cruise ship Anthem to sail into the stormy waters as though no viable information had been given as to the potential dangers of high and unpredictable seas. The cruise line issued a tweet explaining that the storm was “unexpectedly severe”, and then went on to issue an official statement on Monday describing winds higher than what forecasters had predicted.
As the investigations continue, and questions are asked about what Royal Caribbean did or did not know, there is one thing that is certain: The Anthem took a real beating as it continue to sail in the face of hurricane-force winds. As a result, four passengers sustained injuries and many others are living with horrifying memories and the psychological trauma they acquired from the experience.
Were profits put above passenger safety?
Questions continue to swirl as to whether or not the cruise line intentionally allowed the Anthem to sail the dangerous waters, while knowing that weather conditions were going to deteriorate as the weekend progressed. Notable forecasters such as Al Roker have been very vocal about the Royal Caribbean’s assertions that they weren’t aware the conditions were going to be as severe as they were. While on the air, Roker stated, “Royal Caribbean’s claim that this was not predicted is bull feathers. Jordan McLeod, a climatologist with Southeast Regional Climate Center said, “At the very least Royal Caribbean is guilty of poor weather analysis.”
This incident has caused many to question what options are available to passengers who have gone through similar experiences on their expensive cruise vacations. Any passenger suffering an injury should first make sure they see the ship’s doctor and report the incident to security.
Take note of the conditions when you suffered an injury
Passengers should make sure they record as much information about the conditions that led to the injury, as well. They should not rely on the documentation and accounts of cruise ship employees. Remember to document who, how, when, what and where of the incident.
Passengers who have been injured should see their family physician as soon as possible following disembarkation. There physician’s medical account will be important evidence in the event of a lawsuit against the cruise line. Passengers should also read the fine print on the back of their tickets carefully, to ensure they do not miss deadlines for notifying the cruise line of intent to file a claim, or filing the actual claim itself. (There is often a shorter time limit allowed for notifying the company of the intent to sue.)
Maritime law is extremely complicated. Often, laws as they pertain to passenger’s injuries depend on the location of the ship when the injuries happened. Any passenger who has been injured on a cruise ship should seek and secure the services of an experienced maritime attorney to ensure effective legal representation.