As many as thirty-two passengers were aboard an excursion bus in Eleuthera in the Bahamas when the vehicle overturned and injured several people from the Carnival Ecstasy earlier today. Twenty-six people suffered  injuries according to news reports of the accident.

There are several videos and photographs of the overturned bus on social media.  There is a discrepancy between news accounts and the official Carnival statement regarding the number of injured guests. Carnival claims that the majority of the guests on the bus were treated at a local medical clinic and returned to the ship.

Four to six cruise guests were airlifted from Eleuthera – one to two people were sent to a hospital in Nassau and three to four to Fort Lauderdale. Fire Rescue in Broward said three to four patients who landed in Fort Lauderdale suffered serious injuries including limb fractures, internal injuries and possible paralysis.

The Tribune newspaper in Nassau reports that the injuries occurred when the excursion bus skidded off the road and flipped over into nearby bushes.

According to the Tribune, the tour bus involved was operated by Eleuthera Adventure Tours Limited, which was reportedly providing cruise guests a tour of the southern part of Eleuthera when the accident occurred this morning. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the tour was “part of Carnival Ecstasy’s shore excursion options when at port at Princess Cays, Bahamas. Billed as the Cathedral Cove, Ocean Hole and Rock Sound Island Tour, it’s an ecotourism tour of Eleuthera.” (Carnival has now removed the description of the tour from its website).

A prior Carnival guest wrote on the official Carnival description of the tour (image on bottom):

“It was a LOOOOOONG ride (1+ hour) one-way to the first stop in a packed shuttle bus going 80 MPH on a dirt road. Made me sick to my stomach.”

The newspaper said that photos of the accident circulating on social media show “skid marks and broken branches strewn across the road, with the tour bus overturned in bushes, laying on top of broken trees and uprooted plants.”

Eyewitness News suggests that the tour bus’s power steering malfunctioned.

There have been numerous serious excursion accidents where guests were being transported in local vans and buses. Most of the bus excursion accidents in the past involved guests from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises ships.

In 2015, Celebrity passengers from the Celebrity Summit were killed and injured in an excursion bus accident in Tortola.

In 2012, there were two cruise excursion bus crashes in Caribbean islands, both involving Royal Caribbean passengers. Royal Caribbean cruise passengers from the Serenade of the Seas were injured during an excursion in St. Thomas. A Royal Caribbean sponsored excursion tour bus crashed in St. Martin and injured passengers from the Freedom of the Seas.

In 2009, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit 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. You can read information on the Dominica excursion accident in an article “Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami.”

Cruise lines face legal liability when passengers are injured or killed during sponsored excursions. Cruise lines have a duty to vet the excursions companies and warn of dangers in the road conditions and driving in foreign ports of call. Cruise lines can also be held responsible for negligent hiring and retention of the transportation companies and for vicarious liability based on theories of agency. A key issue is whether there have been prior complaints of fast or dangerous operation of the excursion buses for the tour.

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