After a young boy nearly drowned in an Oasis of the Seas wave pool last month, the need for cruise lines to hire trained lifeguards to work on board ships is more apparent than ever before. Lifeguards are specifically trained to look for certain signs of danger and can respond to an emergency the moment it happens. With the current trend in cruise ship size favoring larger, aka “mega ships”, able to carry well over 3,000 passengers, the chances of a drowning or near-drowning accident are much higher.
Our cruise ship accident lawyers here at LMAW have often stressed just how critical it is for cruise lines to have lifeguards on board, yet, as it currently stands, there is no maritime law in place that actually requires cruise lines to do so. Why is that?
Well, though cruise lines haven’t actually come clean about their reasons for not employing lifeguards on ships, we can speculate as to why they haven’t done so. Let’s explore some of these possible reasons.
Though building a mega ship like Oasis of the Seas costs quite a pretty penny (we’re talking a billion dollars), as does the wide range of entertainment options provided on these vessels, cruise lines don’t tend to invest the same amount of revenue on safety features – lifeguards being a main factor in the preservation of passenger safety. Sure, they have no qualms about dishing out the big bucks on those “wow” factor features, like AquaTheaters or FlowRiders, but in the grand scheme of things, the cost of hiring lifeguards is a miniscule expense when compared to the amount spent on all the glitz and glam. If cost really is a factor, then maybe it’s time cruise lines reprioritized. Establishing a safe shipboard environment should be the primary area where funds are allocated to because all the cool attractions on a ship won’t mean anything if no one wants to sail on a ship that isn’t safe.