12 Australian passengers of the P&O cruise ship Pacific Dawn remain in critical condition after sustaining serious injuries when the tour bus they were riding in collided head on with a bus carrying locals in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The 12 Australian tourists were traveling back to the ship after a day trip on the island. Due to their severe injuries, 10 of the 12 Australian passengers had to be evacuated via air ambulance to hospitals in Noumea and Brisbane. Unfortunately, three passengers of the local bus died from their injuries. Paramedic Michael Benjamin, who attended the scene, described the crash as “the worst he had seen in Vanuatu.”
According to reports, a number of passengers are now coming forward demanding that the P&O cruise line take responsibility for the accident. While cruise lines often assure their customers of the safety of the shore excursions they offer, most passengers are not aware of provisions in their ticket contracts which attempt to insulate cruise lines from any liability for accidents occurring as a result of the negligence of shore side excursion providers.
Despite actively advertising shore side excursions on their websites and earning substantial revenues from the sale of shore excursions, cruise lines are adamant that they are not responsible for the negligence of independent contractors. In spite of this, there are ways to hold cruise lines liable for their negligence; especially in cases where the cruise line is aware of dangers because of prior complaints regarding the safety of a particular excursion and is thus in a position to warn its passengers of the dangers.
It remains unclear from the reports whether the tour bus company had been involved in prior incidents. However, locals report that crashes involving tour buses are “frequent and fatal.” This raises the question of whether P&O had knowledge of prior incidents and whether it thus had a duty to warn its passengers.
Because of the intricacies of the law in this area, if you or a loved one has been injured or if a loved one has been killed on a shore excursion, we urge you to contact our firm to learn about your rights.
Vanuatu bus crash kills three, injures 12 Australian P&O cruise passengers, abcnews, June 21, 2016.
P&O under fire over deadly bus crash in Vanuatu, Travel at 60, June 22, 2016.
Photo credit: Vanuatu Daily Post/Glenda S. Willie