The recent tour boat accident in Mexico involving 10 travelers sailing from Miami on Royal Caribbean is the second such accident within weeks of each other. On Dec. 19, 12 people died after a tour bus to Mayan ruins south of Tulum flipped on a two-way highway. In October 2017, two passengers were killed in Croatia when a tour bus backed into them. These are just recent examples, but the list goes on. The reality is, major accidents on shore excursions happen more than travelers might think.

Unfortunately, U.S. travelers fail to understand the risks involved with vacation travel, and focus only on the enjoyable aspects. That puts them at a legal disadvantage if a death or serious injury were to occur. Many U.S. travelers rely on name brands they trust, many times failing to understand that cruise lines will disclaim any responsibility for what occurs on a shore excursion. This happens frequently even where the cruise line sells a passenger the excursion directly. Cruise lines also fail to inform their passengers that these excursion companies, often based on foreign soil, fail to follow customs and practices which are generally accepted in their industry. Many times, foreign-based companies, are less concerned with solidifying good standards and practices as we are in the United States. Later, when tragedy strikes, cruise lines will argue that the excursion operators are nothing more than independent contractors and that the law does not provide for a remedy against the cruise. While there are available avenues to hold cruise lines liable for the negligence of their excursion operators, the cases are more complex and the law provides several ways for cruise lines to avoid liability.

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