Carnival Cruise Lines Attempts to Improve Its Reputation Through Repairs and Repayment

Carnival recently announced a series of repairs that will be made to several ships in their fleet, including those who make ports of call in Washington. The cruise line intends to add emergency generators, upgrade fire safety, and improve engine rooms at a cost of approximately $300 million dollars. The company stated that it would begin by placing temporary emergency generators in its ships to ensure the equipment that provides safety emergency services, plumbing, and fresh water remain intact. Those generators will be replaced by permanent emergency generators.

Carnival is also installing high pressure water mist systems to better the fire safety onboard and making several dry dock repairs to their engine rooms that will allow each of their generators to operate independently in the event the other fails. In addition to the structural overhaul, Carnival Corporation is reimbursing the United States for the costs incurred by the Coast Guard and Navy while helping the cruise ships Triumph and Splendor.

Carnival Cruise Lines is owned by Carnival Corp., based in Florida. They also own several other cruise lines including Holland America, Cunard, and Princess. The company headquarters said it would also review whether the ships in those fleets need similar upgrades. These intense changes raise questions as to what sort of duty Carnival, or any other cruise line, owes to their passengers who are injured onboard.

Maritime law has long established that the owner of a ship in navigable waters owes a duty to all onboard for purposes not inimical to his legitimate interests the duty of exercising reasonable care under the circumstances of each case. The United States Supreme Court made that clear in Kermarec v. Compagnie General Transatlantique - 358 U.S. 625 (1959). In that case a gentleman came on board with an authorized pass to see his friend who worked for the ship. While he was leaving he fell and injured himself because of a defective canvas runner that was tacked to the stairway. The Court agreed with the jury that the ship failed in its duty and should pay damages to the injured gentleman.

The Court emphasized that maritime law focuses on simplicity and practicality so that those who are injured may recover for a breach of duty. The current news of Carnival's repairs may raise eyebrows, but to succeed in a legal action for a personal injury that occurred on board, the passenger must show that the ship owner breached their duty of exercising reasonable care, that this breach of duty caused an injury suffered by the passenger, and the amount of damage that the injury caused. Whether it is Carnival, Norwegian, or Royal Caribbean, all cruise lines owe this duty of reasonable care to their passengers, and all passengers are allowed to file civil suit if the ship owners fail in this duty.

The experienced Washington cruise ship accident attorneys at Merriam and Webb have over 50 years of litigating maritime law cases. If you have been injured onboard a cruise ship, whether as a worker or passenger, contact one of our offices for a free, confidential consultation at 877-800-1007 today.

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