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Our Maritime Blog

Title: Celebrity Cruise Shore Excursion-Segway Injury

Author: Paul M. Hoffman

Category: Passenger Cruise Ship Injuries

Date: 2013-03-27

While on a cruise ship shore excursion sold by Celebrity Cruises, Inc., a passenger fractured his pelvis and right elbow when the Segway vehicle he was operating collided with a picnic bench or stool that was fixed or nailed to the ground on the boardwalk at Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. Caribbean Segway Tours operated this tour. The tour operator had a prior history of negligence in selection of the location of a Segway tour as well as in the operation of a substantially similar tour.

Celebrity knew or should have known this before it selected and retained Caribbean Segway Tours in St. Maarten. Celebrity had previously cancelled a Segway Tour in Nassau, the Bahamas due to the negligent operation of the tour by this tour operator. Celebrity knew or should have known that Caribbean Segway Tours had a documented pattern of misbehavior involving its tour site selection, tour monitoring and training, and failure to warn of known dangers.

The owner of the Segway company, Jimi Heselden, a former fighter jet pilot, was killed in October, 2010 while operating a Segway vehicle near his home in England. A study conducted at the George Washington University Hospital as far back as 2008 by Dr. Mary Pat McKay showed a dramatic increase in people being admitted to the emergency room with serious injuries over the three year period 2006-2008. This study was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine in September, 2010.

The study showed that people on tours are most vulnerable to injury because they can distracted by other people and objects. As a result, Segway, Inc. recommends that users have knee and elbow guards which were not provided. Studies into injuries that occur on tours indicate that some tour operators, called "rogue" operators, take shortcuts on safety. The greatest risk of injury is to new and inexperienced operators.

The George Washington study concluded that injuries from riding a Segway tend to be severe and that most injuries occur when the operator strikes a fixed object. The manufacturer of the vehicle, Segway Incorporated, has a user guide that it recommends all riders read before attempting operation. No user guide was shown on the tour. There is also a strong recommendation that new operators view a safety video and satisfactorily complete a training course before attempting operation. No safety video was shown nor was the passenger given a training course to successfully complete. It is suggested that tours maintain a ratio of one guide for every eight operators. In this case, there were two operators for approximately two dozen cruise ship passengers.

In our opinion, Celebrity Cruises was negligent because it either did not know that the tour was being operated in a rogue manner or it knew about it and continued to offer it anyway.

Shore excursions can be dangerous. Contact a knowledgeable cruise ship lawyer if you or someone you know has been killed or injured while on a cruise ship shore excursion.