Cruise Ship Liability

Cruise ships have become a very popular form of vacation getaway for Canadians. From massive ships touring the Caribbean, to smaller European river boats and everything in between, the cruise ship industry is growing at an enormous rate. In 2010 alone, cruise lines carried more than 14,000,000 passengers worldwide.

With so many ships and passengers at sea, accidents are bound to happen. Disasters such as the Costa Concordia wreck in Italy make for international news, but other incidents are not so well publicized. Drownings, assaults, falls, medical emergencies and other mishaps and injuries happen every day aboard the hundreds of ships plying the high seas. When an injury is caused by negligence onboard a cruise ship, what rights does a passenger have?

The answer will depend on the nature of the incident, the location of the ship at the time of the incident, the flag under which the ship operates, and the terms of the contract between the passenger and the cruise line. Cruise ship liability cases can be difficult, as often the terms of the cruise ticket are particularly one-sided in favour of the cruise line, and they usually contain a “forum selection clause” requiring action to be brought in a specific jurisdiction. In addition, there are frequently monetary limits or caps placed on the potential liability of the cruise line.

In the event of injury aboard a cruise ship, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible, to ensure that your rights are protected.

About the Authors


Adam Little earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto in 1996. He graduated from Queen’s University Faculty of Law in 2000 and was called to the bar in 2002. Adam was practicising on Bay Street for a leading Toronto litigation firm that represented doctors in medical malpractice claims when he realized that helping people through personal injury litigation was what he wanted to do. “I wanted to work for the best,” he said. A partner at Oatley Vigmond had written the best-known book available about addressing jury trials, which Adam had read and admired. He wrote to the partner, went through an intense interview process and became a partner at the firm in 2005.

To learn more about Adam, please click here.