Five Worst Cruise Ship Disasters of All Time

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2015 | News

Cruise vacations remain the height of luxury. Between the scenic relaxation of an ocean-view stateroom, the endless eating, and the enthralling excursions, cruises remain one of the best ways to see the world. And lucky us, we live right here in Florida, the cruise capital of the world.

But as gleeful and glamorous as they may be, cruise vacations are not without their dangers. Like most forms of mass transportation, they’re vulnerable to both small-scale personal injuries and major catastrophes.

Paranoia’s never a good thing, but knowing a little bit about what can go wrong will help when selecting a cruise line. Accordingly, in the grand summer tradition of box-office disaster films, we thought we’d take a look back at five of real life’s worst cruise ship disasters.

The Seaborne Bug That Infected a Whole Ship

Our first entry comes out of recent history, and it might not quite qualify as a “disaster” per se — but to the people onboard, it sure felt like one! In January 2014, a nasty virus swept through Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, infecting nearly 700 passengers with vomiting and diarrhea. It was the largest number of sick people aboard a commercial cruise ship in modern times. So much for all those five-course meals!

When Pirates Attack

“Pirates Plunder Ship” sounds like a headline from four hundred years ago, but believe it or not, this one comes from 2005. Somali pirates commandeered two small boats and trapped the Seabourn Spirits ship as it cruised past the coast of Somalia. More than 300 passengers were onboard, paralyzed by fear as gunfire soared toward the ship they temporarily called home. Brilliantly, the crew decided to sound built-in horns that mimicked gun blasts. The pirates thought they were facing return fire and decided to flee. Nobody died, but suffice it to say that many of the passengers are still coping with the traumatic impact of their harrowing ordeal.

The Fisherman’s Crash: A Chaotic Cruise to Nowhere

Back in 1992, the Royal Pacific crashed with a Taiwanese fishing trawler and sank off the west coast of Malaysia. More than 500 people were aboard. Four of them died, and countless more suffered serious injuries. Many had to fend for themselves in the water. Newspapers scrambled to reconcile conflicting reports in the days after the crash. Perhaps most memorable was the headline in London’s Independent: “Chaos and Death on Cruise to Nowhere.”

Unforgettable Tragedy: The Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia became a household name after the haunting catastrophe that claimed it in January 2012. The enormous ship hit an underwater rock while sailing past the Tuscan isle of Giglio. The ship capsized, turning over on its side and slowly sinking into the water. A mind-boggling 4,252 people were onboard. 32 people from eight different countries died, and another 64 suffered injury. Many jumped overboard and several drowned. Notably, the ship’s captain abandoned his passengers and crew, for which he was later convicted of 32 counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He’s expected to appeal in the near future.

We’ll Never Let Go of Titanic

It probably comes as no surprise that Titanic takes the top spot here. No other cruise ship disaster has so firmly grabbed the heart and memory of our culture. Of course, that’s thanks in no small part to James Cameron’s Oscar-winning 1997 film about the whole ordeal. For those who may not have seen it (if such people exist), the Titanic was a British luxury liner that set sail on April 10, 1912. It was the largest ship in history at that time, widely hailed as “unsinkable,” and its maiden voyage drew tremendous attention from all around the world.

Alas, its fate would not be so kind. While just south of Newfoundland, the ship hit an iceberg, exposing its insides to cascading water. Slowly, the vessel turned upright and sank, eventually splitting in half with more than 1,000 passengers still aboard. In all, it took the Titanic less than three hours to sink, and more than 1,500 people died.

Dealing with a Cruise Line Injury

History is fascinating, but it’s also educational. If this retrospective teaches us anything, it’s that even the best modern-day cruise ships are not immune to attack, onboard illness, collision, or other catastrophes.

We are in a unique position to help the victims of cruise ship disasters and their families. Many cruise line injury cases are directly tied to Florida, and negligence is almost always to blame. Our attorneys can help those injured file a claim for financial compensation and hold irresponsible parties responsible for the damage they’ve caused.

If you need help with a cruise line injury claim, please contact us for a free consultation right away. Our offices are conveniently located in Miami and we’re also available to come to you. Remember: we don’t charge a fee for our services unless there’s a successful outcome in your case.

Otherwise, please feel free to share this article with your family and friends — and let us know about your own cruise line experiences in the comments section below!


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Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 30 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for many years.