Should Cruisers Be Able to Sue Over Rough Seas?

First, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas was battered by high winds and rough waves while on the high seas. Now, many are suggesting that the company itself is likely to be battered by lawsuits from passengers who were injured or traumatized by the events that unfolded.

A statement released by Royal Caribbean said that the storm “far exceeded forecasts” and, as a result, turned what should have been a relatively easy to manage situation into a dangerous one. “Even so,” it continued, “It is our responsibility to eliminate every surprise we possibly can.”

Some have questioned whether it was irresponsible for Anthem of the Seas to leave and sail into the potentially dangerous storm, which could raise issues of liability. Ryan Maue, a digital meteorologist for WeatherBell Analytics, told NJ.Com that the storm “was well forecast by many different weather models,” adding that it was “not a surprise to anyone watching the weather on a daily basis.” Maue also took to Twitter with a message reading, “Sailing a billion dollar boat with 4,000 passengers into a well-forecast hurricane-force cyclone is negligent, and Royal Caribbean should admit it.”

Jordan McLeod, a climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southeast Region Climate Center, in an interview with USA Today, posed the following question: “Did Royal Caribbean know about the forecast for a potentially dangerous storm in the days prior to the ship’s departure? If so, I would say it was negligent for them to sail through that area given that passenger safety should be their first priority.”

McLeod went on to add, in essence, that if Royal Caribbean did not know about the developing situation and the danger it might pose, they needed to “invest either in an in-house meteorological staff” or a consultant to help deal with such scenarios. And Royal Caribbean’s statement did promise that they would be looking at making changes to their storm avoidance policy.

All of which leads to the question of whether rough seas are something that cruise passengers should be able to sue over… or something that is the occasional hazard of vacationing on the high seas, where weather patterns can and do develop unexpectedly.

What is the roughest voyage you’ve ever experienced, and how did it impact your feelings about cruising in general and the line on which you were sailing in particular? 

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