The Viking Sky Cruise Incident Reminds Us That Cruises can be Dangerous

Many people watched in horror and fascination on March 23rd, 2019 as the Viking Sky cruise ship foundered off the coast of Norway. The whole incident should remind us all that cruise ships can be dangerous when not operated properly.


What Happened?

The ship was off the coast of Norway with 1,373 people aboard and was headed to Britain. It ran into severe weather off Norway’s western coast and faced waves up to 15 meters tall and wind gusts of up to 43 miles per hour. In the midst of all of this, all four engines failed, setting the cruise liner adrift inside a rocky bay. After about 24 hours of rescue operations, all passengers were rescued and amazingly, no one was seriously injured. Many of the passengers were all airlifted from the ship by helicopter by Norwegian authorities. In the aftermath, Norwegian authorities are investigating the ship’s owners for “recklessly” putting passengers at risk by setting sail despite storm warnings. The waters in which the Viking Sky foundered are apparently notorious for bad weather and other passenger vessels decided to stay in port based on the forecasted weather for that day.


Alaska Cruises

Truth be told, the Viking Sky incident could have happened in just about any waters where there are cruise ships. Many areas on the Alaskan coast are known for their beautiful scenery and treacherous conditions. While we would all like to believe that a cruise company has our best interests and safety in mind at all times, this may not always be the case. In the Viking Sky incident, allegations have been made that the only reason the boat was on the water was for financial profit. While it is true that all ships will eventually encounter unexpected weather conditions, the terrible storm that the Viking Sky ran into was forecast in advance. Luckily, no one was seriously harmed or killed. What are the rights of the passengers, though, if they are seriously hurt on a cruise ship?


Maritime Law

Amazingly to some, the passengers on the Viking Sky come under the exact same set of laws as any passenger on a cruise ship going to Kenai Fords or steaming past Anchorage — maritime law. Traditional state and federal laws do not apply to incidents or injuries that take place on the water. Instead, the courts apply a centuries-old amalgamation of common law, statutory law, and court precedence to come up with maritime law (also known as the law of the sea). If the incident were to occur within the jurisdiction of Alaska, the case would most likely be heard in the Federal District Court and depending on the circumstances, would apply principles from maritime law and most likely state law to resolve the case.

This example shows just how dangerous being on a cruise ship can be. Luckily, all the passengers got out of this relatively unscathed. Regardless of the outcome, though, there are allegations that the company was derelict in its duty to protect passengers that were under its care. Cases that involve maritime law are often complex and require specialized knowledge and experience that not just any personal injury attorney possesses. The attorneys at Power & Power Law have years of experience handling maritime law cases. Give us a call at 907-222-9990 or toll free at 833-669-9990 or click here to set up your initial consultation and see what we can do for you.