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Some of the biggest cruise ship accidents in history have, unsurprisingly, received a lot of media attention. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone in the US who is unfamiliar with the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, and in more recent history, disasters including the sinking of the Costa Concordia and the loss of power on the Carnival Triumph have garnered significant press. However, sometimes significant cruise ship accidents are overlooked by the mainstream media, either because a cruise line withholds information or because other news stories are dominating the headlines at the time. Here are five cruise ship accidents that should have received more attention.


Achille Lauro Sinking Is Last Incident in Ship’s String of Disasters


The Achille Lauro, a ship owned by Starlauro (which has since been rebranded as MSC), caught fire in the Indian Ocean in 1994. The crew battled the fire for close to seven hours, but after it got out of control, everyone on board was forced to abandon the ship. A Panamanian tanker was able to rescue most of the crew members and passengers, but there were unfortunately two casualties.

The Achille Lauro had suffered from a string of bad luck long before it caught fire and sank. It suffered serious fire damage in both 1962 and 1972, and then collided with a livestock carrier (which sank) in 1975. Yet another fire, this time in the ship’s bar, killed three passengers in 1981, and in 1985, a Palestinian group hijacked the ship and killed an American passenger.


Blaze on Star Princess Damages Ship, Leaves One Dead


Princess Cruises’ ship Star Princess caught fire in 2006, resulting in the death of one passenger from Georgia, the injury of 11 others, and the evacuation of more than 2,600 other passengers from a port in Jamaica. The ship also suffered significant fire-related damage in up to 250 of its cabins. The cause of the fire was not definitively determined, but it’s believed that it was caused by a smoldering cigarette.


The Sea Diamond Strikes a Reef and Sinks


 The Sea Diamond Strikes a Reef and Sinks

The Sea Diamond, a ship in the Louis Cruise Lines fleet, sank in 2007 after hitting a volcanic reef and damaging its hull. The incident occurred about a nautical mile off the coast of Santorini, and passengers were hastily evacuated on motorboats, lifeboats, and fishing vessels. While some passengers were lowered down in lifeboats, others had to climb rope ladders over the sides of the ship into rescue vessels waiting below. The cruise line originally reported that all passengers and crew members had been transported safely to shore, but it later came to light that two French passengers were never accounted for.


Costa Europa Crashes into Pier in Egypt


Two years before the much-publicized 2012 sinking of the Costa Concordia, another Costa-owned ship, the Costa Europa, crashed into a pier at an Egyptian port while trying to dock in bad weather. According to Costa’s CEO and chairman, an unexpected gust of wind caused the ship to collide with the pier at the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh. While most of the ship’s passengers safely disembarked, three British tourists and one crew member were injured while three crew members were killed.


Five Crew Members Die during Safety Drill on Thomas Majesty Ship


Five Crew Members Die during Safety Drill on Thomas Majesty Ship

In February 2013, five crew members on a Thomas Majesty liner were killed during a routine lifeboat drill. Eight crew members were inside a lifeboat that was being lowered from the deck when the lifeboat’s cable snapped and they fell approximately 100 feet into the ocean. The lifeboat fell upside down on top of them, trapping them under the hull. The three crew members who survived were injured and had to be transported to a hospital after they were rescued. Sadly, this is not the first time a lifeboat drill has ended in fatalities. One spokesperson from Nautilus International, a trade union for people who work at sea, even suggests that more people die in lifeboat drills than are being saved by lifeboats.


Involved in a Cruise Ship Accident? Speak Out


Cruise ship accidents deserve to receive more attention because they often highlight shortcomings in ships’ safety features and protocols. If you were a passenger or crew member who was injured on a cruise ship, don’t just hope that the media picks up the story and that justice comes to you. Talk to a cruise ship accident lawyer in order to determine the best legal course of action to hold the cruise line responsible.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”