Cruise Passengers on Excursion in Belize Involved in Head-On Collision

Belize Tour Excursion Van AccidentNews 7 in Belize published an article yesterday entitled Tourists Survive Head On Collision.

The story involves two cruise passengers who had taken an excursion ashore in Belize and were involved in a serious accident while riding in a van which had a head-on collision with another van. The tour van they were in was caused to flip over.

Here is the local news station's account:  

"Two cruise tourists and their driver were involved in  a serious collision within Belize City limits this afternoon. This picture provided to us by a viewer shows the tourists slumped over on the side of the road in front of the mashed up and overturned tour van they were in. The collision happened at around 2:30 at mile three and a half on the Western Highway - right at the spot where a new speed bump was installed just last week. The circumstances of the accident are unknown but it seems two mini-vans collided at the speedbump and the impact sent the gold van spinning across the highway, causing it to violently flip. The tourists were taken to a private hospital for treatment, while the condition of the driver is not known."

The news station did not identify the cruise line or cruise ship. 

Automobile, bus and van accidents ashore are an unexpected part of cruising and taking excursions ashore. Cruise lines have liability for injuries suffered during excursions under some circumstances, such as when the cruise lines offer the tour and fail to have in place procedures to properly vet the tour Belize Van Accident - Cruise Excursionexcursion's equipment and the driver's background, experience and driving record. Other excursions where cruise passengers have been injured include:

Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess

Injured Clelbrity Cruises Passengers to Dominica Airlifted to Miami

 9 Cruise Passengers Killed, 14 Injured in Bus Excursion Accident

Royal Caribbean Sponsored Excursion Tour Bus Crashes in St. Martin

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Injured During Excursion in St. Thomas

 

Photo Credit:  7 News Belize

Cruise Ship Passenger Dies in Cayman Islands - Third Cruise Death in Caymans in 18 Months

Cruise Ship Passenger Death - Cayman IslandsThe Associated Press reports that a cruise ship passenger from New York state has died at a beach in the Cayman Islands.

According to the newspaper, police in the Cayman Islands identified the victim as Louis Janvier DeBiase of Deer Park.

Police say that Mr. DeBiase, age 81, lost consciousness while swimming in waters at Grand Cayman. 

This is the third cruise ship passenger who has died in a similar fashion in the waters of the Cayman Islands in the last eighteen months.  You can read about the others incidents below: 

Cruise Passenger Found Dead in Cayman Islands

Another Cruise Passenger Found Dead In Cayman Islands Waters

 

Photo Credit: photos4travel / @patrix99

Passenger from Sea Spirit Cruise Ship Killed During Artic Excursion

Sea Spirit - Quark - Cruise Ship A newspaper in Norway reports that a cruise ship passenger was killed and three other passengers were injured while on an Artic cruise excursion. The incident occurred when a rubber inflatable boat (a Zodiac) was swamped by a wave in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, causing all 13 people to go into icy Arctic waters.

The accident involved passengers from the Sea Spirit who were being taken on a sightseeing excursion. The deceased passenger was a U.S.  woman in her 60's. She was examined by the cruise ship doctor. A rescue helicopter was sent but the woman was pronounced dead, Two other passengers were flown in the helicopter to a hospital at Longyearbyen for treatment.

The Sea Spirit cruise ship is operated by Quark Expeditions

 

Photo Credit: Cruising Holidays

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Killed During Dune Buggy Excursion in Mexico

A number of newspapers including the Orlando Sentinel are reporting on the death of a young couple who cruised to Cozumel and died during a dune buggy accident last Saturday.  

Jim Melillo and Susan Borges sailed from Fort Lauderdale to Mexico aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas and signed up for a dune buggy excursion with a number of their friends. They were killed when the dune buggy in which they were riding (driven by another cruise passenger) apparently lost control and struck a metal guardrail. 

The Orlando Sentinel quotes the group members commenting that the dune buggies had poor safety conditions and many of the buggies did not even have seat belts. A Mexican newspaper identifies the dune buggy rental company as "Paraíso" car rental. The dune buggy excursion was not sold through the cruise line.

Even if the excursion were sponsored by Royal Caribbean, there is case law indicating that the cruise line may not be liable in a case like this. In John Morrell & Co. v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., 534 F. Supp. 2d 1345, 2008 AMC 936 (S.D. Fla. 2008), a company paid for twelve of its employees to go on a cruise on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. When the ship was in Cozumel, Mexico, several employees went on a dune buggy expedition that Royal Caribbean made available, but was owned and operated by a Cozumel company. A dune buggy was involved in an accident which caused it to swerve and flip, causing serious injuries to one of the employees resulting in $170,000 in medical benefits and disability benefits.

The court found that Royal Caribbean was not liable for the accident. The cruise ship did not supervise the operation and had no duty to warn passengers of possible dangers in such a trip, as the dangers are obvious the court held. 

 

The couples's family and friends set up a facebook tribute page and a website, Jim and Susan Fund, where you can donate in their memory.  

Royal Caribbean Sponsored Excursion Tour Bus Crashes in St. Martin

The newspaper Today reports that cruise passengers from a cruise ship were involved in a serious accident while riding in an excursion bus to the Loterie Farm excursion in St. Martin.  Cruise Critic U.K. reports that the passengers were from Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas cruise ship. 

The incident occurred last Thursday while 36 cruise passengers were riding in the excursion bus heading to a zip line adventure / canopy tour at Loterie Farm. The excursion is called the Loterie Farm Treetop Adventure Tour

According to these newspaper accounts, the excursion bus lost control as it was descending a hill, causing it to strike an oncoming taxi and then plummet into a ridge. A photograph of the overturned taxi is to the right. A passenger provided the Today newspaper the following account of the accident

Excursion Bus - Taxi Accident - Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas“Just after we went through the Loterie Farm gate we felt the driver hit the brakes but no brakes, and then the bus just started careening down. About half way down we hit a speed bump and everyone hit the ceiling and then the bus just continued rolling down the hill. There was a guy driving coming up the hill while we were going down so we ran into him, flipped that vehicle over and then ran straight down into the ditch. Tree branches got into the bus and many people received whip lashes from the branches. Everyone was screaming manically, we thought we were plunging to our deaths but the tree saved us. The bus driver was pretty much shook up though.”

Accidents involving cruise excursion buses like this are not as uncommon as the cruise lines will admit.

In January, a cruise sponsored open safari bus excursion from a Royal Caribbean ship crashed in St. Thomas, resulting in injuries to eleven cruise passengers. The passengers were traveling from the Serenade of the Seas cruise ship in the safari bus when the open air bus lost control going down an embankment, struck a parked car and then went over a ridge. Royal Caribbean stated that eleven of the passengers were immediately transported to a local area hospital.

Two years ago a young man from a Princess cruise ship was killed and numerous passengers were injured in a cruise bus excursion in Tortola - Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess.

The previous year, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises' Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica.  

In September 2010, an excursion bus carrying cruise passengers plunged into a ravine in northern Morocco (Castillejos) and killed nine Portuguese tourists. 14 cruise passengers were injured.

It is currently unknown whether this latest accident involved a mechanical breakdown or was due to driver error. There are conflicting accounts of the extent of the passengers' injuries.  Some passengers were taken to a local hospital.

If you have photos or video of the incident that you wish to share, please leave a comment below. 

 

Photo credit: Today newspaper

Royal Caribbean Passenger Dies While Kayaking in Alaska

The Juneau Empire newspaper reports today that a cruise ship passenger from Texas died after after his kayak overturned in Mendenhall Lake in Juneau, Alaska on Sunday. 

A spokeswoman for the Tongass National Forest stated that the deceased cruise passengers was 62 year old Michael Ray Fullerton.  Mr. Fullerton was with other family members, from a cruise ship, who rented kayaks to tour a lake at the foot of Mendenhall Glacier.  

A public radio station in Alaska, KTOO News, indicated that the group was from Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship. "They rented tandem kayaks and safety gear from Alaska Boat and Kayak in Auke Bay about 3 p.m., according to owner Sean Janes. He said the group was not on a Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas - Kayaking Death - Juneauguided trip. He said they were all given a safety briefing before they loaded their kayaks and gear in their car to drive to the lake."

The articles suggest that Mr. Fullerton allegedly became tired and the group tied their kayaks together. The kayaks overturned, although the articles are unclear how this happened. Other family members were treated for hypothermia at a hospital and released.

Last year we reported on a cruise passenger from the Disney Wonder who died while kayaking in Alaska. 

 

Photo: Royal Caribbean Cruises website

Carnival Breeze to Cross Picket Line in Venice

Venice Italy - Transport Workers StrikeTravel Agent Central published an interesting article today mentioning that a nationwide strike in Italy is scheduled for today by the Italian Public Transport Workers.

The article was written by one of the employees of Travel agent Central who is cruising on Carnival's new cruise ship, the Carnival Breeze, which sailed into Venice this morning.

Carnival's Cruise Director John Heald apparently informed the passengers over the ship’s public address system of the strike and said that the water taxis and water buses (vaporetto) in Venice will not be operating. Heald told the cruise guests not to worry, noting that Carnival was working on alternative transportation including arranging for boats to shuttle from the cruise dock over to St. Mark’s Square and back. 

I think that I'd walk from the dock to St. Marks. Yes it's a hike, but crossing a picket line is not how I would want to spend my vacation . . . 

Robbing Cruise Passengers in Bulk - Yes, It Happens!

Yesterday I talked about the recent armed robbery of 22 Carnival cruise passengers who were traveling in a bus back to the port in Puerto Vallarta during a Carnival sponsored excursion.

I mentioned that the cruise lines and tourism officials would quickly start a PR campaign to convince the public that robberies of large groups of passengers is rare.  But it's not.

There have been at least 100 passengers robbed at gunpoint (or machete) during excursions over the last 3 - 5 years; the majority of them were traveling in large cruise excursion groups. 

In 2007, 17 passengers from the Carnival Conquest cruise ship passengers were robbed at gunpoint during a cruise line sponsored excursion after sailing to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The excursion was to Cruise Excursion Bus - Cruise Ship Crimethe Lethe Estate, an old banana plantation.  The Carnival passengers were riding in a trolley when several bandits jumped out of the bush and robbed the 17 cruise tourists. cam. The passengers were terrorized as the gunmen pointed guns at the children on the trolley and took off with the passenger's jewelry, wallets, purses, cameras and money.  You can read the account in the USA cruise blog here.

Since I started Cruise Law News two and one-half years ago, I have reported on 4 armed robberies of cruise tourists in groups between 11 and 18 people. 

In November 2010, 17 Celebrity cruise passengers were robbed at gunpoint in a tour bus.  While the buds was heading toward a historic site, rocks and branches were strewn across the bus' path.  When the bus stopped, armed robbers threw a large rock into the front window and rushed into the bus and robbed the excursion group. 

In December 2009, 14 NCL passengers were robbed during a "safari" excursion in Anese-La-Reye by 4 masked men armed with guns and knives. The robbery occurred at beautiful waterfall advertised as a "perfect place to spend several hours in quiet reflection." 

In October 2009, a Bahamian newspaper reported that two "vicious robbers" held a group of 11 terrified cruise passengers from a Royal Caribbean ship by gunpoint in Nassau.

In November 2099, 18 cruise passengers were robbed during an excursion in the Bahamas during an excursion into a remote natural preserve.  The passengers were part of a large Segway excursion which contained passengers from Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise ships.  

In addition to these incidents, there are dozens of other robberies of smaller groups, involving couples and families, which occur while the passengers are ashore.

When cruise experts and the tourism bureaus in Mexico and the Caribbean islands tell you that such crimes are "rare," take the time to educate yourself.  Don't trust your family's safety on representations from those who are trying to sell a product.  As the saying goes, those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it. 

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Injured During Excursion in St. Thomas

A cruise sponsored open safari bus excursion from a Royal Caribbean ship crashed in St. Thomas, resulting in injuries to cruise passengers. 

The passengers were traveling from the Serenade of the Seas cruise ship in the safari bus when the open air bus lost control going down an embankment.

Royal Caribbean stated that eleven of the passengers were immediately transported to a local area hospital.  The Royal Caribbean PR person, Cynthia Martinez, stated that "ten were treated for minor injuries, two were uninjured, and one was seriously injured."  Twelve of the 13 passengers Serenade of the Seas - St. Thomasreturned to Serenade of the Seas and will continue on the sailing.

One passenger sustained a fractured hip and remains in St. Thomas for further medical treatment.

Royal Caribbean stated that the cruise passengers were participating in the "Best of St. Thomas and Shopping" shore excursion. 

Accidents like this are not as uncommon as the cruise lines will admit.  Two years ago a young man from a Princess cruise ship was killed and numerous passengers were injured in a cruise bus excursion in Tortola - Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess.

The previous year, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises' Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica.  We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident.  Information on the Dominica excursion accident is contained in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

"Open air safari" buses and other similar vehicles in the Caribbean are often designed without seat belts or shoulder harnesses, and the vehicles are also often substandard and poorly maintained. 

It remains to be seen whether this vehicle was properly equipped and maintained.

Update:

The Virgin Islands Daily News reports that there was much more to the accident than admitted by Royal Caribbean.  The newspaper reports that a "safari taxi carrying 13 cruise ship tourists on a shore excursion darted from Skyline Drive on Friday morning, levelling mailboxes, striking a parked SUV, launching itself over the ridge and plunging 65 feet into thick bush.   . . . The crash broke one woman's hip and caused a cut on one passenger's forehead that required stitches."

Taxicab Commission Executive Director Judith Wheatley said that there have been several recent accidents which have "put safari safety into the spotlight."

9 Cruise Passengers Killed, 14 Injured in Bus Excursion Accident

Classic International Cruises - Funchal cruise ship - tour bus accidentA excursion bus carrying cruise passengers plunged into a ravine in northern Morocco (Castillejos) today and killed nine Portuguese tourists. 14 cruise passengers were injured. 

44 passengers were aboard the bus when it crashed during foggy and rainy weather.  Some news sources are indicating the bus driver may have been speeding. 

AFP reports that the passengers were from the Funchal cruise ship which had docked in Ceuta with 400 passengers. 

The Funchal is marketed by Classic International Cruises and operated by Arcalia Shipping Company Ltd, of Cyprus.  

There have been a number of bus accidents causing injury and death to cruise passengers. Earlier this this year, a tour bus carrying passengers from a Princess Cruises ship crashed in Tortola - Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess

 

Photo credit:    AFP