On Thursday, February 14, 2019 a cruise passenger was reportedly seriously injured in a bus excursion accident in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

We were informed that the passenger was injured in a bus/auto accident while on a cruise sponsored tour after the Allure of the Seas arrived in San Juan. The women reportedly had to be airlifted from the island. Her son was reportedly on another excursion which was cut short to get him back to be with his family. The woman’s family departed from the Allure following the excursion accident.

At this point, we have received no details regarding either the accident or the cruise guest’s injuries.

The Allure of the Seas left Miami on February 10th and called on Philipsburg, St. Maarten on February 13th. The ship arrived in San Juan, on February 14th. After this accident, the ship was delayed several hours leaving San Juan and arrived at the private destination in Labadee, Haiti yesterday. The Allure will return  to Miami tomorrow.

There have been at least seven bus excursions throughout the Caribbean in the last ten years where Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises passengers have been killed or seriously injured, including the following incidents:

In 2017 and 2016, there were bus excursion accidents in Mexico and Jamaica which involved the deaths and serious injuries of dozens of cruise passengers.

In January 2017, a Celebrity Cruises excursion bus collided with a car during a cruise sponsored trip in New Zealand, leaving a half dozen cruise passengers from the Celebrity Solstice seriously injured.

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.  You can read information about the accident in an article titled Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami.

You can read about prior cruise excursion accidents here.

We represented passengers against Royal Caribbean and Celebrity in litigation involving several of these accidents.

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 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. Royal Caribbean often represents that the tours which it sells to its passengers are allegedly “the best” excursions using “the best” tour operators and “the best” transportation.

Cruise lines collect hundreds of millions of dollars each year promoting and selling shore excursions in foreign ports of call, and are not even subject to U.S. taxes on this highly profitable business.  Yet, after their cruise guests are injured or killed during these excursions, they claim that their local agents are “independent contractors” who are not subject to jurisdiction here in the U.S.

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Photo credit: Daniel Christensen CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

What happened? On December 19, 2017, an excursion bus (identified as tourist bus number 1012, Mercedes Benz, license plates 82 RA7V), operated by a Mexican transportation company on behalf of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., carrying passengers from the Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas and from the Celebrity Equinox (also owned by Royal Caribbean) ran off the road while dirivng to a Mayan ruins tourist attraction in Chacchoben, in Quintana Roo state, Mexico. The accident resulted in the bus flipping over, shattering windows and ejecting some of the passengers onto the road and the shoulder of the road. The two cruise ships sailed from ports in South Florida, with the Equinox leaving from PortMiami and the Serenade leaving from Port Everglades, with both ships arriving at the port of Costa Maya (Mahahual). Royal Caribbean stated via Royal Caribbean Celebrity Cruises Bus Excursion AccidentTwitter that there were 27 passengers aboard the excursion bus (in addition to the bus guide and the bus driver), although the federal police in Mexico stated that there were 31 people on the bus.

How many guests were killed? Eleven passengers and a Mexican guide were killed in the accident.

The Swedish and Canadian governments confirmed the deaths of cruise passengers from those countries. There were two passengers from Sweden and one from Canada (from Quebec) who were killed. The U.S. embassy in Mexico City confirmed that there were eight American deaths. There are news accounts of multiple injuries to U.S. passengers as well as Royal Caribbean guests from Canada.

How many guests were injured? The Quintana Roo state prosecutor’s office had reported that seven injured tourists had returned to the cruise ships while 13 remained hospitalized, six of them in Tulum and seven in the city of Chetumal, near the Belize border. Of the thirteen people seriously injured, there are three Americans, four Brazilians, three Canadians, and two Swedes (who reportedly have already been flown to the U.S. for medical treatment), as well as the Mexican bus driver.

How did the accident occur? The cause of the accident remains under investigation. Initial information is that a passenger on another bus which passed the crash site observed skid marks on the dry pavement. According to NBC News, Quintana Roo state prosecutor Miguel Angel Pech Cen Royal Caribbean Bus Excursion Accidentsaid at a news conference that a preliminary investigation indicates that the bus driver’s negligence led him to lose control, and when he tried to return back to the narrow highway, the bus flipped, struck a tree and landed in vegetation along the roadside. “Due to a lack of care the driver lost control of the bus’ steering to the right, leaving the asphalt,” Pech Cen said. He said signs found at the scene indicate the driver was going too fast.

The Associated Press reported via NBC News that Mexican authorities said “driver negligence and excessive speed caused the crash.”

Reuters is reporting that the front tire of the bus may have exploded, according to the local police chief in Mexico.

There is conflicting information regarding the whereabouts of the driver of the excursion bus. Some sources say that the driver has been arrested and will be prosecuted for criminal negligence. Others reports indicate that the driver’s whereabouts are not known to Mexican prosecutors.

At least one passenger (photo left) was quoted as saying that “the seat belts were tied below the seats, no one told us to put them on . . .” This may explain why some of the bus passengers were apparently not restrianed in their seats and were ejected from the bus.

Is Royal Caribbean Responsible? Cruise lines have a legal duty to conduct a through background check into the reputation, qualifications and safety record of the tour operators which they involve in their excursions for their guests. They are legally required under U.S. maritime law to vet the individuals and companies who/which drive their customers in ports of call. Cruise lines also have a legal duty to warn passengers of dangers in foreign ports of call. If other passengers complained that the tour drivers were speeding or driving recklessly or there were no functioning seatbelts available for use by the guests on the buses, then the cruise line had a duty to intervene and correct these dangerous conditions or warn of these dangers. Cruise lines can be held liable in the U.S. court system for accidents which occur in foreign ports of call for the negligent operation of excursion buses operated by the local agents, particularly when the cruise lines misrepresent that the Cruise Bus Excursion Accident - Mexicoexcursions are carefully vetted and safe.

Royal Caribbean operates many thousands of excursions around the world. It would require the cruise line to vet and inspect ten to fifteen foreign cruise excursion and transportation companies around the world each and every day of the year if it were inclined to perform a background check on each tour operator at least once a year. The cruise line does not devote the resources necessary to properly vet and oversee the safe operation of excursions aroud the world, despite the hundreds of millions of tax-free dollars it collects from its passengers who take such cruise excursions.

There are reports on social media that other cruise customers have experienced unsafe conditions on this excursion before this accident. Posters leaving comments on the popular Cruise Critic site have stated: “We went on probably this same exursion which is down a dirt road at top speeds for 45 minutes. We feared our life and would never do it again . . . ” Another poster stated: “This is the exact cruise port and the exact bus tour and the exact road we were on, a week and a half ago . . Speed and driving and safety rules are not the same in other countries. On the way back from the tour, the bus was going extremely fast. I commented that we better hope nothing unexpectedly comes out of bush. It is a lery long, 45 minute straight stretch of road.”

A newspaper in Mexico writes regarding the local tour company ” . . . is not the first time that (it) is involved in an accident due to the lack of caution of its operators that drive exceeding the speed limits . . .”

What is Royal Caribbean’s Excursion Safety Record? There have been at least six bus excursions throughout the Caribbean in the last ten years where Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises passengers have been killed or seriously injured. You can read more about prior cruise excursion accidents here.

Cruise lines collect hundreds of millions of dollars promoting and selling shore excursions in foreign ports of call, and are not even subject to U.S. taxes on this highly profitable business.  Yet, they claim that their local agents are “independent contractors” who are not subject to jurisdiction here in the U.S. when their cruise guests are injured or killed during these excursions.

Read: Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel: Can cruise lines ensure shore excursions they offer are safe?

Read: NBC News:  Mexico tourist bus crash: Survivors heading home, 2 victims ID’d.

Image credit:  Celebrity Equinox (top) – CBS News; cruise passenger (middle) – Time magazine; scene of accident (bottom) – CBS News; video below – CBS News; Facebook loading page of Serenade of the Seas by Sunnya343 CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

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Multiple news sources are reporting that at least twelve people died when a bus carrying anywhere from twenty-seven to thirty-one cruise passengers on an excursion to Mayan ruins in eastern Mexico flipped over on a highway earlier today. Additional cruise passengers, with some sources suggesting up to eighteen people, were also injured in the accident.

The excursion bus was heading from Costa Maya to the ruins at Chacchoben, about 110 miles south of Tulum in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The majority of the passengers were reportedly from the Serenade of the Seas.

The photos and videos of the incident show many passengers lying in the road or beside the overturned bus, indicating that many people in the bus may not have been furnished with working seatbelts and they were ejected when the bus overturned. Unfortunately, we have seen this situation in other cruise line excursion bus cases, including those operated on behalf of Royal Caribbean/Celebrity Cruises.

There have been a large number of excursion bus accidents involving Royal Caribbean and its sister Mexico Excursion Bus Crashcruise line, Celebrity Cruises.

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.

You can search this blog for other discussions of numerous cruise ship excursion bus accidents.

Have a comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

The Miami Herald quotes our firm in 12 reported dead as tourist bus crashes in Mexico.

December 20, 2017 Update:  A local newspaper in Mexico writes that the local tour company  ” . . .  is not the first time that (it) is involved in an accident due to the lack of caution of its operators that drive exceeding the speed limits . . .”  ABC Radio reported the acccount of a passenger who travelled to the same excursion site, saying … “one of the sides of the bus was ‘smashed’ after it fell on its side and that the ‘whole windshield was gone . . . “The seat belts were tied below the seats, so no one told us to put the seat belts on . . . ‘”

A Mexican newspaper quoted the national police that the death toll has increased: “there were 15 deaths, 14 tourists and 1 Mexican guide, 11 died on the spot and 4 on the way to the hospital.”

The Washington Post reoports that a Mexican state prosecutor alleges that the deadly bus crash was caused by the driver’s negligence and excessive speed of the bus.

Photo credit: TV AZTECA (top); Video image –  7 cty youtube (middle); video – AP via Miami Herald (bottom).

Mexico Royal Caribbean & Celerity Cruises Bus Excusion Accident

 

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Excursion Bus in DominicaA newspaper in Dominica reports that an excursion bus taking passengers from a MSC cruise ship to a tourist attraction crashed today in Dominica.

An infant reportedly died in the accident, according to the online newspaper in Dominica. 

The bus was heading on an excursion to Trafalgar Falls.

The newspaper says that five people have been taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital. MSC Cruises indicates in a statement (below) that seven passenger were injured.

The MSC cruise ship is the Orchestra. The cruise line says that the passenger had "independently booked through a third party."

There have been a number of deadly bus excursion accidents involving cruise passengers.

Most recently an excursion bus was struck by a truck as the Royal Caribbean excursion was returning to the Freedom of the Seas in Falmouth, Jamaica, resulting in one death and multiple serious injuries.

Prior to that accident, two passengers from the Celebrity Summit were killed in Tortola, British West Indies when the excursion bus apparently lost control near "Round Hill" on the Cane Garden Bay Hill.
The cruise line earlier tweeted that "16 of 20 passengers reported injured, 2 critically."

In 2010, an excursion bus carrying Princess cruise passengers crashed in Tortola, killing one young man.

Cruise passengers from the Celebrity Summit cruise ship were seriously injured in an excursion vehicle mishap in the Caribbean islands. In 2009, a dozen passengers from the 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 about the Dominica excursion accident in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

There were two cruise excursion bus crashes in 2012 in Caribbean islands, both involving Royal Caribbean passengers.

Photo Credit: dominicanewsonline

MSC statement:

"It is with deep sadness that MSC Cruises confirms that a tragic accident involving seven of its guests happened earlier today at approximately 11 AM, local time, in Trafalgar on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

The seven guests involved in the accident were five Italian and two Brazilian nationals. They were on their way to a on shore visit which they had independently booked through a third party.

Immediately after the accident, the guests were transported to the nearby Queen Margaret Hospital in Trafalgar and a support team from the ship has since arrived to the hospital to assist them in every way they can.

Simultaneously, MSC Cruises’ crisis team was activated and has already contacted all the families and relatives of the guests involved in the accident.

The guests were all aboard MSC Orchestra which was calling at Roseau, Dominica, for the day.

Since then, we are glad to report that two Italian and two Brazilian nationals are safely either already back on board or on their way. Regarding the young boy and his family, his parents are out of harm’s way but still at the hospital. I am unfortunately not at liberty to disclose the condition of the young boy, since the relevant authorities have yet to make a formal assessment. Having said this, I have also been reading that he has passed and we are led to believe that this is sadly the case."

The Jamaican Observer reports that cruise ship passengers were injured today "when the Toyota Coaster tour bus they were travelling in was involved in a four-vehicle collision on the Carey Park main road in Trelawny."

The Jamaican newspaper says that "one of the cruise ship passengers was rushed to the Falmouth Public General Hospital."

The newspaper article identified a "grey Toyota Corolla motor car, a white Freightliner truck and a Cruise Bus Excursion Accident yellow Toyota Hiace panel van were the other motor vehicles involved in the collision."

We have learned that the tour bus was on an excursion taking cruise passengers from the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas (in Falmouth) to Dunn’s River. 

Royal Caribbean released a statement, indicating that one passenger was killed and three others were injured:

"Today 21 guest from Independence of the Seas participating in an excursion were involved in a traffic accident in Falmouth, Jamaica. We are saddened to report that a guest passed away. Three other guest were injured and are being treated at the local hospital. Crew members have gone to the hospital to assist. Join us in keeping them in our thoughts and prayers."

There have been a number of bus excursion accidents in Caribbean islands involving Royal Caribbean and its sister company Celebrity Cruises over the last 6 years.

Photo Credit: Jamaica Observer / Mark Cummings

 

 

Celebrity SummitVirgin Islands News Online reports that at least two cruise passengers have been killed and many other passengers injuired on an excursion bus transporting cruise tourists to Cane Garden Bay beach today in Tortola, British West Indies. 

According to this news report, the excursion bus apparently lost control near "Round Hill" on the Cane Garden Bay Hill. 

The newspaper says that the roadway was steep and wet but it does not state how or why the accident occurred.

The cruise passengers were from the Celebrity Summit. Royal Caribbean has tweeted: "We are saddened to report the deaths of two Celebrity Summit guests after a local bus accident in Tortola. Several others are being treated." It earlier tweeted that "16 of 20 passengers reported injured, 2 critically."

In 2010, an excursion bus carrying Princess cruise passengers crashed in Tortola, killing one young man.  

This is not the first time that cruise passengers from Celebrity’s Summit cruise ship have been seriously injured in an excursion vehicle mishap in the Caribbean islands. In 2009, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises’ 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."

There were two cruise excursion bus crashes in 2012 in Caribbean islands, both involving Royal Caribbean passengers.

Photo Credit: "Celebrity Summit" by Yankeesman312 Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons / Wikipedia.

Princess Cruise Bus AccidentNews sources in Alaska are reporting that a Princess Cruises employee was killed when a Princess Tours excursion bus overturned on a rain slicked highway in Alaska.

The accident occurred at mile 173 on Parks Highway, approximately 200 miles south of Fairbanks.

The Frontiersman reports that this is the second serious incident involving a Princess-owned bus on a remote stretch of road in the past month. Here’s a story about the prior accident involving a Princess bus.

The photograph of the crushed bus (left) was published by the Frontiersman via Tim Whitney.

The Cruise Fever websites says that "the bus was heading northbound along the Denali National Park from Mt. McKinley Wilderness Lodge to the Princess Wilderness Lodge" when the accident happened. 

KTUU states that three people, all Princess employees, were on board the bus when it crashed and the front end was crushed. 

The woman who died was from Malaysia and working in Alaska. A second Princess employee was seriously injured. The bus driver was not injured.  

State Troopers say that excessive speed was a factor in the accident.  

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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

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

The St. Kitts & Nevis Observer reports today that five men accused of robbing a tour bus full of cruise passengers in November 2010 pleaded guilty to the crime.

Elroy “Stanny” Williams, Junior “Que” Sobratie, and Curtis Long were charged with four counts of robbery, one count of conspiracy and one count of assault with intent to rob, while Delvin Francis and George Welsh were charged as accessories to the crime.

The men were involved in the armed robbery of the 17 cruise passengers who were aboard a tour bus on its way to Brimstone Hill Fortress.

St. Kitts Cruise Ship RobberyThe robbery targeted 17 cruise passengers from the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship. They were on a cruise sponsored excursion called the "Caribbean Journey Masters tour bus." While the tour bus was heading towards a historic site, rocks and branches were strewn across the bus’ path. The driver exited to investigate, and the robbers threw a rock into the windshield of the bus. Two armed, masked men rushed from the bushes and entered the bus.

A local newspaper reported that seventeen passengers, including an infant, were aboard the bus at the time of the robbery. The cruise passengers were robbed of their money, cell phones, jewelry and other personal items.

We wrote a number of articles about the crime:

More Cruise Tourists Robbed, This Time In St. Kitts

Celebrity Cruise Passenger Robbers Face Trial in St. Kitts