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 returned 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.
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."