Four days ago, we discussed the near drowning of a six year old boy whose heart had stopped when he was found on the bottom of a swimming pool on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas.
People contacting us say the boy slipped and struck his head. Other children reportedly pulled the unconscious boy from the pool. Royal Caribbean was not supervising the Royal Caribbean pool.
Royal Caribbean, like Carnival and NCL, has no lifeguards assigned to its pools. Only Disney takes the responsible step of employing lifeguards on cruise ships.
I have written at length about these type of situations.
Saving children’s lives requires the joint efforts of the parents and the cruise line. Parents must obviously supervise their children, and the cruise line must supervise their pools. If the pools are intended for adults only, then there must be cruise employees at the pools enforcing that rule as well as any other rules such as "no children," "no running on the pool decks" or "no horseplay."
Contrary to what many people believe, a "no lifeguard" or "swim at your own risk" sign, without more, is legally insufficient to exculpate the cruise ship from liability.
Disney used to rely on "no lifeguard" signs, but after the near drowning death last year of a child who was rendered severely brain damaged and needs expensive lifetime care, the Magical Cruise Line now employees lifeguards throughout its fleet. It took only one prior incident for Disney to throw away the "no lifeguard" signs and do the right thing by assigning ship employees to the pools.
Today we were notified that a similar incident occurred previously on the Independence of the Seas. A concerned parents told us:
"The same happened to my daughter, six years ago, who was age six at the time, on the Independence of the Seas. We had gone with large group of family and friends and it was our first full day at sea. All the kids were so excited and it was our first cruise so we didn’t really know the rules or anything about the ship. The kids were running around on the children’s area where the water fountains were, this area was a water area for kids, however, in the same area was a pool, which was really deep water, we had no idea and this is where my daughter jumped in, after following her cousin, who was eight months older than her and could swim a little. The pool was six feet deep, we checked afterwards and this was the deepest pool on the ship, even deeper than the adults pool, why this was put next to the kids area, I have no idea. My daughter could not swim and panicked, she tried alerting her cousin who tried to help but as she was so small too, she nearly pulled her down.
It was only by chance that my sister was walking past to go back to her room that she spotted them and had to jump in fully clothed to save her. We were only yards away but as this pool was right in the middle of area we couldn’t see them."
It’s easy to blame parents whenever they let their guard down for a minute. But its entirely foreseeable and predictable that parents, especially parents on vacation, will make mistakes – perhaps only for a few precious seconds.
Ignoring a prior similar incident when a child nearly drowns is a dangerous proposition for a cruise line. A prior incident provides "notice" of the danger and requires the cruise line to take corrective measures to prevent similar injuries or fatalities from occurring.
Putting away legal issues of liability, the best way to protect kids is to have the parents supervise the kids and the cruise line supervise the pools.
That’s why a responsible cruise line (so far only Disney) employs lifeguard to supervise the pools.
How many other incidents will it take before Royal Caribbean does the right thing and hires lifeguards?