The Dangers of Boarding a Cruise Ship
As ancient as the tradition of sea travel is, shipbuilders still haven’t developed a safe, and reliable method for embarking and disembarking to and from a ship. Both passengers and crew members are routinely injured while using gangways, ladders, steps, and even the archaic but still often used, Jacob’s ladder. Injuries of this nature can occur on both large and small vessels, commercial freighters to luxury liners.
Regardless of the type of ship, the company has a responsibility to properly maintain its points of egress. If a passenger or seamen is injured, the shipping line could be liable and may also have its vessel declared unseaworthy. In the case of a gangway, it must be easily accessible, have adequate handrails, have anti-slip material on its surfaces, be well lit, and if it extends over water, there must be safety netting. Additional precautions may still need to be taken.
Oftentimes a gangway is not practical and a Jacob’s ladder may be used. While this is still considered a legally valid method for entering and exiting a ship, it’s not ideal for all passengers. For instance, an eighty year old woman taking a Caribbean cruise out of Miami may not be suited to climb down a rope ladder without assistance-regardless of how well maintained that piece of equipment is.
Tenders-those vessels that transport passengers from the ship to the shore in shallow waters-carry their own unique set of hazards. If the water is even a little choppy, the tender provides an inconsistent landing for the person who is attempting to transfer onto it. Because the ladder is only anchored to the ship at the top, a slight movement can cause a person’s hands to impact the side of the vessel. This could injure the hand and even cause the person to fall.
Shipping companies bear the responsibility of maintaining a safe method for their crewmen and passengers to board and exit their vessels. Even if they’ve taken some precautions to ensure that this happens, they may still be liable for gangway or tender injuries. If you are either employed on a ship or booked passage on one, your safety is the responsibility of the ship’s owners. If you sustain an injury while embarking or disembarking, contact an experienced maritime law attorney.