Wipeout! Liability of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for FlowRider Accidents

In the last several months, many cruise passengers contacted our office who have been seriously injured on the FlowRiders on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Some passenger are injured when they fall.  Others are injured after they fall and then the water current drives them over the ridge into the back wall breaking their ankles.  

FlowRider - Royal Caribbean - Accidents - Injuries - Cruise The injuries are extremely serious.  All passengers required surgery and were left with permanent injuries.

The complaints which we hear from the passengers are all the same -  the cruise line "instructors" seemed to be ill-trained or in a rush, and the instructions given to the guests were incomplete.  Without exception once the accident occurred, the crew members at the FlowRider did not know what to do.  The injured passengers often find themselves being put off in the next port on a Caribbean island with inadequate medical treatment.

Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line which has FlowRiders.  That's because the other cruise line do not want to subject their guests to such serious injuries and then face the legal liability of having one of these dangerous activities on their cruise ships.    

Royal Caribbean has FlowRiders on the Oasis of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, and Liberty of the Seas.  The cruise line describes the FlowRiders innocently enough on its website

"How It Works - The FlowRider sends a thin sheet of water up a sloped and (thankfully) cushioned platform to create a wavelike flow of water. So it's perfect for beginning, intermediate and advanced surfers . . . "

Royal Caribbean faces liability for: inadequate instructions to passengers; failure to maintain and operate the FlowRider consistent with manufacture instructions and industry standards; failure to FlowRider Wipeout - Royal Caribbean Flow Rider Injury accurately disclose and effectively warn passengers of prior accidents, injuries, and deaths aboard the FlowRider; and failing to respond appropriately to the accidents.

The cruise line forces the passengers to sign "Onboard Activities Waivers."  The cruise line tries to argue that these 'waivers" strip the passengers of their rights whenever they are injured while flowboarding, zip lining, rock climbing, or ice skating. 

We believe these waivers are invalid.  They violate U.S. Federal law which prohibits shipping companies and cruise lines avoiding or limiting liability for injuries and deaths on the high seas.

Royal Caribbean knows that hundreds of passengers a year will be injured on the FlowRiders on their cruise ships,  They have installed large flat-screen tvs in the adjacent "Wipeout Bar" for the other passengers to watch the fun.  But if you are seriously injured, check with a maritime lawyer before you take the cruise line's word that their so-called "waivers' are valid.   

 

Don't forget to watch the video below - of Royal Caribbean FlowRider wipeouts - sung to "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" by Drowning Pool:  

 

 

December 21, 2011 Update:  FlowRider Accidents: Royal Caribbean Liability Waivers Are Unenforceable!

 

Credits:

Photo 1           randmunn1 Fkickr 

Photo 2          carolsummer66 photobucket 

Video             YouTube lilmikee420

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Comments (8) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
UK Cruises - June 28, 2010 5:39 AM

Again, a really interesting article, and very thought provoking. Certainly in the U.K. (and I believe in the U.S.A too), we live in a 'where there's a blame, there's a claim' and more and more lawyers are offering the 'no win, no fee' option, encouraging more and more people to put in claims for the slightest injury. This causes a lot of controversy as people stage injury in the hope of getting a little bit of cash. Often, companies who probably aren't even liable are forced to pay out I am not a legal expert myself so its interesting to read that these claims are ligitimate and in fact Royal Caribbean is liable. I wonder if you have any more detail on the 'Onboard Activities Waiver.' Is this a general thing passengers sign on embarkation or is it something specific to sign each and every time one of these activities is undertaken. The reason I ask is that a group of us have just come back off the Norwegian Epic preview, and a number of my colleagues were made to sign a 4 page waiver before getting on the plunge water chute. Boys being boys, they didn't actually read the 4 pages and had no idea what they were signing, such was their excitement to get on the slide. But I wonder if this is the same thing as the Royal Caribbean form, or if in fact it is more valid?

Jim Walker - June 28, 2010 5:13 PM

Thanks for the comment, U.S. Cruises. Royal Caribbean requires the passengers to sign these "waivers" before anyone gets on a zip line, ice skate, FlowRider, rock climbing wall etc. The RCCL website even tries to entice the passengers to "sign" the waivers on line in order to "save time:"

"Save Time Onboard by Signing Your Activities Waivers Online!

Save time and sign activities waivers online. If you want more time for rock climbing, ice skating, surfing and more, you'll want to sign your waivers before you board."

Very deceitful to say the least.

I'll scan a copy of one and post it here on line . . .

I am not famiiar with the NCL "waivers."

Thanks again for your comment.

Jim Waker

Leigh Taylor - September 24, 2010 9:39 AM

We have cruised on both the Freedom and the Oasis and the draw for us IS the Flowrider. Yes, someone can get hurt, but I can also get hurt walking across the street, slipping and falling in my own bathtub, working out at a local gym, etc. Bottom line, life is not without risk and I for one do not want to live in a bubble. You assume a certain amount of risk if you sky dive, rock climb mountain bike, etc. and is SOMEONE ELSE always to blame? NO, take responsiblity for your own life and stop blaming others for everything that happens. The ONLY people who win in our litigious society are the lawyers.

Jim Walker - September 24, 2010 3:12 PM

Thanks for your message, Leigh.

Yes, there are risks of everyday life. But there are particular design flaws in the FlowRiders on cruise ships which present an unreasonable danger to the public and are not known to the passengers. There have been catastrophic injuries on FlowRiders where the family has the burden of lifetime medical care for their children.

The U.S. has a legal system where jurors decide whether the cruise line is to blame, or the passenger is responsible, or both parties are at fault. Our jury system works well. It is better than a system where individuals never obtain compensation, because they are prohibited from blaming a negligent multi-billion dollar corporation as you seem to suggest.

Its hardly true that only lawyers benefit from lawsuits. You would think differently if your child was paralyzed and you were faced with overwhelming suffering, not to mention medical bills greater than your self-worth.

Because cases are handled on a contingency basis, the lawyers always lose when the case is unsuccesful.

Leigh Taylor - September 28, 2010 4:36 PM

I concur that in some instances justice would be best served by allowing a jury decide who is at fault; however, I am curious about your comment ". . . there are particular design flaws in the FlowRiders on cruise ships which present an unreasonable danger to the public and are not known to the passengers." Since we spend the bulk of our time on the Flowrider when cruising, I am curious as to what these "design flaws" are? I have fallen several times and my husband did hurt his knee on the last cruise (I have had three knee surgeries caused from hip hop and jazz dancing and kick boxing classes) but both of us will be back on the Flowrider on our next cruise. Again, there are certain activities (e.g. jet skiing, snow skiing, snow boarding, water skiing) that hold an inherent risk and people are injured and/or killed every day while doing these activities but I still do not believe it calls for a court of law to determine who is at fault. Accidents happen, hence the name "accidents". Maybe I am too much of a Polly Anna and I just view the glass as half-full.

Brad - February 27, 2011 5:05 AM

Hey what's with the smear campaign against flowriders? This talk about death, injury, design flaws?? This is a joke right? If your 210 pounds, unfit and never ridden it of course you can be injured on a Flowrider! Safety is paramount and if an attraction is being ill run it is not the fault of the flowrider, designers or manufacturer. Cease this propaganda against the safety of flowriders or the litigation could be coming your way Jim..
Brad.
P.s. The maker of this clip from the ship has obviously slowed and repeated wipeouts to make them look worse than they actually are. Iv wiped 1000 times on a flowrider and never hurt myself once..

JTC - June 21, 2012 6:25 PM

@Brad - Long running Flow Rider Systems WERE NOT BUILT for use at Sea. And the fact that (filtered) sea water is used is a violation of the manufacturers OP. THe fact that there is NO REAL PADDING for the fallen to absorb the hits makes it even more dangerous. I've seen these used on land and there is a wall of padding behind the system and had not see anyone break a limb, As for the At Sea FRS I seen 1 of 250 sprain or break a limb. The woman the fell face first in the video needed 5 stitches because she busted her chin.

FRS WAS NOT MEANT FOR CRUISE SHIP USE.

Amanda - June 9, 2014 4:13 PM

The main reason my family and I cruise on Royal Caribbean is for the Flow Rider. We have cruised 3 times and I have never seen anyone get hurt. These new rules of not allowing certain tricks on the Flow Rider is making my family and I think twice about cruising with them since the tricks I like to do on the boogie board (flips, barrel rolls, superman, etc.) are not allowed. I believe that if you get hurt it's your own fault, you know the dangers in participating. Blaming Royal Caribbean for an injury you sustained when you were participating on your own free will is idiotic. I won best of the best my second cruise and did not even compete on this last one since the tricks were so rudimentary

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