A cruise passenger on board Holland America Line’s Maasdam was killed on November 7th when she slipped and fell between a tender and the HAL cruise ship. At the time of the incident, the ship was in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.
The source of the information is a passenger, wishing to remain anonymous, who stated that: . . . the seas were very rough and it was debatable whether we should have been tendering at all. She was traveling by herself. It would appear that this incident is being covered up. The safety on this ship is rather haphazard.”
The passenger later stated that “the tender service was definitely operated by HAL. The staff members were offered counseling by phone. I am particularly surprised how unsafe it is on their tenders . . . This particular day was the roughest I have ever seen at sea. It was definitely not safe and that poor lady paid the ultimate price.”
The Maasdam is currently sailing on a 28 night “Polynesian & South Seas Sampler” cruise.
Cruise lines have a legal duty to exercise a minimum of reasonable care while transferring passengers to and from their cruise ships. A passenger was killed three and one-half years ago when she fell between the tender and the Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth. Eight years ago, a passenger was seriously injured when she fell trying to exit from a tender ferrying passengers to Grand Cayman from a Carnival cruise ship. Seven and one-half years ago, a woman died when she was dropped during a transfer from the Ocean Countess operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages.
The case is likely to be governed by the Death on the High Seas Act (“DOHSA”), which limits the recovery only to “pecuniary” (i.e., financial) damages. Any surviving family members, such as a spouse or children, are not entitled under the terms of DOHSA to recover emotional damages such as grief, bereavement and emotional distress. If the woman is retired and not a wage earner, her family will be limited to just burial expenses.
DOHSA is one of the most antiquated, cruelest and completely callous laws imaginable.
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November 12, 2018 update: A passenger on the cruise left the following comment on our Facebook page: “We were on that cruise and witnessed how unsafe the tendering operation were conducted.The tragedy of this event is that the captain did cover the fatal accident from the passengers and did not properly informed us about what had happened. This gives people reason to gossip and speculate about the real cause of the accident. On that day in Rarotonga the sea was very rough and there were no extra activities from the crew to make sure that tendering operations went safer. The state of tenders on HAL was below criticism.”
November 13, 2018 a.m. update: Newsweek is reporting on the fatality.
November 13, 2018 p.m. update: The Maasdam returned to Rarotonga today, but the master announced that due to rough conditions the ship is unable to tender ashore. A passenger stated “funny, it’s a lot calmer than the other day” (when the passenger died). A photo of the weather conditions today:
The local newspaper (Cook Islands News) reported on the incident.
November 14, 2018 Update: HAL touts itself today in a press release for winning the best cruise line for shore excursions in a reader’s choice award from Porthole magazine, just a week after a guest was killed during a shore excursion.
Photo credit: Top -M/S/ Maasdam via Holland America Line
Middle and bottom – Maasdam tender – anonymous.