On the afternoon of Sunday, March 3, 2019, the Norwegian Escape left Cape Liberty Cruise Port for a seven-day cruise to the Bahamas and Florida.

Shortly before midnight on March 3, as passengers were enjoying their first night on the cruise, the 1,069-foot cruise ship lurched all the way to the port side. Furniture flew, glass brokeNorwegian Cruise Ship at Sea Hofmann & Schweitzer, and people fell. Several vacationers and crew members were hurt, according to a tweet from @CruiseNorwegian.

According to Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), “Just before midnight on Sunday, March 3, Norwegian Escape encountered unexpected weather in the form of a sudden, extreme gust of wind, estimated at 100 knots, which resulted in the ship heeling to the port side”.

To put things into perspective, 100 knots is the equivalent of about 115 mph—or Category 3 hurricane force winds.

Cruise Ships Have a Duty to Keep Guests and Crewmembers Safe During All Kinds of Weather

On March 3, 2019, stormy weather was forecast in the southeastern and northeastern United States. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes impacted several states including South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. To the north, snow developed in New Jersey, New York, and New England.

NCL maintains that the 115-mph wind gust that hit the Escape was unexpected. While bad weather is not always predictable or avoidable, cruise lines have a duty to use reasonable care to avoid anticipated severe weather and to react with reasonable care after any safety-related incident. More investigation will need to be done to determine whether the Norwegian Escape captain and crew should have:

  • Reasonably anticipated the high winds
  • Taken action to avoid the area of high winds
  • Secured furniture and other objects in anticipation of high winds
  • Warned guests and crew members of potential bad weather

Additionally, more information will be needed about how the crew responded to any injuries that occurred and any dangerous conditions, such as broken glass, that happened during the wind gust.

Common Cruise Ship Injuries

The exact injuries of the Escape guests and crew have not been reported. However, a weather-related incident could result in a significant injury if someone falls or gets hit by an object. These injuries could include:

  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Eye injuries
  • Lacerations

Prompt medical care is essential to treat these injuries. Without treatment, pain may persist, infections may develop, and medical conditions may get worse. Injured guests and crew should be promptly assessed to determine whether adequate medical care can be provided on the ship and whether additional care may be necessary as soon as the ship reaches port.

What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt on a Cruise Ship

The actions that you take after a cruise ship injury could significantly impact your recovery. You have a limited amount of time to take legal action and knowing what action to take can be challenging. Your rights are governed not only by maritime law but also by the terms of your contract which is part of your cruise ticket.

If the crew on your cruise failed to exercise reasonable care in avoiding an accident or in responding to an accident, and if that failure to exercise reasonable care resulted in your injury, then you may have a legal claim against the cruise line. A full investigation will need to be done to determine what happened and whether you should recover damages for your injuries.

The experienced maritime injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer are here to help you and to make sure that you take all of the necessary steps to protect your rights after a cruise ship accident injury. We will make sure that you provide timely and appropriate notification to all of the required parties, all of the relevant evidence is collected, and you are treated fairly. If appropriate, we will fight for your full and fair compensation of medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

To learn more about your rights, please contact us online or by calling our office directly at 800.362.9329. We would be happy to speak to you about your rights and to answer your questions about your possible recovery.


Paul T. Hofmann
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Focused on personal injury, with an emphasis on maritime, railroad and construction worker tort claims.
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