Our law firm is receiving an increasing number of inquires about cruise passengers injuries occurring on tenders. Generally, when a cruise liner is too large to dock at a pier, it requires tenders to shuttle passengers back and forth from the ship. With ships increasing in size each year, tendering is becoming more and more prevalent. There are two basic ways passengers are tendered. One option is to lower the cruise ship’s life boats and use them as the tenders. The other option available to cruise lines is to contract with local tendering services which use small boats to shuttle the passengers.
The Cruise Line’s Legal Responsibility to Passengers
A Cruise line has the non-delegable legal obligation to provide their passengers safe ingress and egress, under adequate supervision, to and from the ship. This legal duty remains the same no matter if the cruise line decides to use its own life boats or contract with local boat companies to provide tender services. As such, if a passenger is injured due to the unsafe operation of a tender, that passenger has a legal claim for negligence against the cruise line even though the tender was not operated by the cruise line. Given the legal duty to provide passengers safe ingress and egress to and from the ship, United States law precludes a cruise line from exculpating or limiting its liability for injures arising from negligent tendering.
There is a significant difference between a cruise line’s duty to its passengers regarding tendering and boating excursions. Unlike tendering, boating excursions and are not technically part of a cruise line’s obligation under the cruise ticket contract. These activities are purchased separately either on-line or on the cruise ship. Since excursions are not part of a cruise line’s obligation to carry passengers to foreign ports in a reasonably safe manner, courts allow cruise lines to exculpate their liability for injuries occurring on excursions. These exculpations are found in the cruise ticket contracts of all major cruise lines. Similar exculpations are usually found on the back of the excursion tickets issued to the passengers.
If you would like to learn more about a cruise line’s obligation to passengers during tendering operations, feel free to contact our Florida Board Certified Maritime and Admiralty attorneys.