Can this trip be saved? Slipped and fell on my cruise — how about a do-over?

Accidents happen.

But what if an accident happens because of the direct result of a travel company’s recommendation, which directly affects the rest of your vacation?

That’s the question Mary Lee Sturner is weighing after her recent Western Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Pearl. In Belize, the cruise line recommended a zip-line and rappelling excursion for Sturner and her 10-year-old grandson.

Sturner’s husband, John, explains what happened next.

This event takes place in a rainforest and rugged trails connect the various zip line sites. Between the second and third site, Mary Lee slipped on a wet rock and broke four ribs in her back.

The staff did an excellent job of getting her to the hospital and back on the ship, where the medical care was great. Everyone from the captain on down were caring. Mary Lee was of course bed- and wheelchair bound for the rest of the voyage, which was more than half of the cruise.

When the Sturners returned to the States, they sent a letter directly to Kevin Sheehan, the CEO of NCL. They heard nothing. So they sent another letter to the claims department. Here’s an excerpt:

This is in no way a claim or to infer any liability, simply a request. Inasmuch as more than half the cruise was lost for all purposes for me, my husband and my grandson and given the fact that we are loyal Silver Latitude NCL sailers, is there any possibility that NCL would grant us some financial consideration on a future cruise?

Before we get into the merits of Sturner’s case, let’s get a few things straight: At a bare minimum, NCL should have sent Sturner a form letter saying, “Sorry, we can’t help.” The family’s inquiries were polite and reasonable. I mean, offering a modest discount to a Sliver Latitude frequent cruiser? I’m sure that kind of thing is routinely done for less reasons.

A look at NCL ticket contract — the legal agreement between Sturner and the cruise line — suggests it’s not liable for her injury. Paragraph 5 a) says,

The Guest acknowledges that the Carrier is not an insurer of his or her safety during the course of the voyage, and the Guest agrees that the Carrier shall not be liable in any circumstances for any incident or injury arising from events occurring outside of the Guest areas of the vessel or outside of the vessel itself, including but not limited to those events occurring ashore (including shore excursions), on tenders not owned or operated by the Carrier, on or resulting from equipment not a part of the vessel, or upon docks and/or piers, or involving persons employed on board the vessel acting outside the course and scope of employment.

From the NCL side, here’s what bothers me (other than the fact that it hasn’t responded to the Sturners). Why on Earth would anyone recommend a ziplining and rappelling tour to a grandmother and her 10-year-old grandson? I don’t get that. Even I would think twice before trekking through a slippery, bug-infested rainforest — and I don’t have any grandkids.

Were the NCL reps thinking about the passenger, or the rich commission they’d pocked from the shore excursion?

“The least they could and should do is give us the courtesy of a reply,” Sturner told mee. “We have been loyal to them and we would hope they will return that loyalty.”

I hope he’s right. The cruise happened in March, and we’re halfway though May. I’m not holding my breath.

I wonder if it’s time for me to get involved?

(Photo: Casey Kold erup/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus

  • sirwired

    I know that this view is rather unpopular amongst many here, but: Trip Insurance, Trip Insurance, Trip Insurance.  For the amount of time she was unable to get around, she would be receiving a pro-rated refund through any reasonably comprehensive policy (i.e. not the one sold by the cruise line) with no begging or groveling necessary.  And her medical care would be covered to boot.

    The company isn’t at fault (the writer acknowledges this), nor is her
    loyalty club level particularly high.  (She has somewhere between 5 and 9
    completed cruises.  There are two more levels after this one.)  If I was NCL, she’d get a $100 on-board credit, max, as a courtesy.  Which, to her credit, seems to be along the lines of what she’s asking for.

    The company isn’t responding for multiple reasons:

    1) The first place she went was the CEO’s office.  All sorts of random
    junk goes there, and ordinary big-company incompetence means the letter
    will get lost, form-lettered, mis-routed, or ignored.  She would have
    been better off going to the correct department in the first place.

    2) That correct department ISN’T Claims, it’s Customer Service.  (If she
    acknowledges it’s not NCL’s fault, she doesn’t have anything to claim.)

    3) Any letter with the word “liability” in it goes to Legal.  (The words
    “claim” and “inasmuch” probably don’t help either.)  Legal doesn’t hand
    out anything for free, and is probably hoping she’ll forget or let it go so they
    don’t have to spend time and legal dollars forging a response.

    Also, Chris, I rather disagree with your statement: “an accident happens because of the direct result of a travel company’s recommendation.”  The accident was NOT the direct result of the recommendation.  The direct cause of the accident was a slick rock.  It was indirectly caused by the company that had her happen to travel by/over the slick rock.  It was further indirectly caused by the cruiseline, which happened to make tickets for said company available.  That’s not “direct” in any sense of the word. “Direct” would be if a cruiseline employee bumped into her, and she fell on the rock.

  • Kona211

    Ok, my husband and I went on that exact same excision in December with NCL and it is perfectly fine for a wide range of ages. The group in front of us was celebrating their dads 80th birthday (and he was loving the zipline) and there were plenty if little kids under the age of 10 participating as well. I will admit the trails between ziplines were a little rustic compared to US standards, but that’s where common sense should come into play. This was a horrible accident, but accidents happen and that doesn’t mean there’s someone to blame.

  • ouijesuis

     That’s life. Live and learn but NCL is not obligated to compensate her for the lost portions of her trip…I think it’s a bit classless to even ask. Everyone is always looking for a handout — “I didn’t know the rainforest would be wet…someone should have informed me.” Get over it. Sorry about your ruined vacation…sorry that you broke your ribs…it’s a fun story to tell at your next cocktail party…better luck next time.  


    I’m empathetic to their plight.. but… I must also look at this from the view point of what level of control or responsibility did the cruise line have in the incident..  As far as I can see… and even as Chris notes, the answer really is zero…

    I do have some issue with the notion that the OP’s age– which is not disclosed (only that there is a 10yr old grandson)– is somehow a factor.. which Chris comments as “Why on Earth would anyone recommend a ziplining and rappelling tour to a grandmother and her 10-year-old grandson?”

    To me, without knowing the physical limitations of the OP, to make a statement implying that there was some poor judgement to me smacks of age sterotyping.. Shouldn’t the OP be the one to say “Hey, I’m fit enough for this” or.. even “I think this is a little much for me.”  Since there is no assertion by the OP or Chris that the shore activity was misrepresented, I think the OP’s age– grandmother, mother or not is wholly irrelevant.

    I do think that the cruseline should have simply and politely wrote back outlining the denial and the logic and legal framework behind it.. but I do suspect that by the OP sending their INITIAL letter outside of normal customer service channels to the CEO added in time for it to be re-routed to the department that does handle these matters.. To go to the CEO later on, not to being with…

    Again, I think they are owed a polite and detailed answer— as to all legitimate letters of complaint– but in the end, I do not see any grounds for a concession on the cruise lines part.

  • Tom

    I’m not sure why Elliott views a grandmother as a person of limited physical abilities. Plenty of people in their 40s, 50s, 60s amd beyond are in excellent shape and can engage in all sorts of strenuous activities.

    That said, I don’t think her letter reached the appropriate decision maker. She is a member of the frequent cruise club and was only asking for consideration on future cruises. Any smart customer relationship manager would send her a nice note and coupons for $100 off each of her next five cruises. All she seems to be seeking is sympathy and a discount. For the cruise line, that shouldn’t be a problem. 

  • Pelrodhill

     First of all, just because she is a grandmother does not mean the excursion was inappropriate.  You don’t say how old she is, just that she is a grandmother.  In any event, grandmothers of all ages do all kinds of physical activities. I just ran a half-marathon behind a grandmother and her grandmotherly buddies.  My kayaking class was full of grandmothers learning to right themselves after rolling a kayak. Second, I’m sure if she read the description of the excursion, she would have realized that there was going to be some walking, there might be some rain and some mud, and that zip-lining in itself has some element of danger.  Finally, I don’t see any direct causation between the recommendation of the cruise company and the injury.  I think it would be a stretch to hold the independent excursion company liable, so why would the cruise line have any liability?  

  • DavidS

    I voted “no” to mediate…for now.

    I don’t think the OP is entitled to any compensation…BUT… If I were the cruise company I would certainly offer something off a futire cruise.

    This is where it gets complex. Businesses would rather pay someone to go away than have a potentially litigious person as a customer. By not contacting customer relations first, she may have stalled her case.

    I would advise the OP to contact the cruise line, on her own, again, forgetting about “claims” and the “CEO” and starting with customer relations.

    Give the cruise line another chance.

    Although, I am not surprised by NCL’s lack of response. Years ago we went on an NCL cruise and found it to be overrun with 15 year old girls celebrating a birthday. They took over every venue and we could not seem to avoid them…even the 18+ lounges.

    My letter to them went unanswered. I have not cruised NCL again.

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    The excerpt you gave of her letter shows her letter was certainly polite and pointed with regard to her request (if this is indicative of the tone of the rest of the letter) and should have been given an equally polite response.

    I don’t know a recommendation of a zip-line was far off the mark, given the probability she was fit to do this, in spite of her being a grandmother.  I don’t think it’s fair to slam Chris for his statement, either.  Certainly, the decision to follow the recommendation of the employee was left to the OP and her family.  Also, she didn’t get hurt on the zip-line, she was hurt because she slipped and fell on the walk to get there (?). Perhaps it’s not too difficult to imagine the zip-line “might” have been too much for her.

    I voted yes on this poll.  The OP wasn’t unkind towards the cruise line.  She expressed a desire to travel with them in the future (which might be why she hasn’t heard from them – they don’t need to work to keep her business) and she plainly stated she didn’t hold them responsible for the accidental fall.  She also gave the her wish for resolution, financial consideration for a future cruise.  I don’t understand why the cruise line is ignoring her, not even inquiring into her condition upon returning home, other than they don’t give a flip.

  • John Frenaye

    I am a no as well. I know a 32 year old grandmother, so her “status” is irrelevant.

    I would also like to know how the cruise line “recommended” the excursion to them. Most cruise lines offer an overview of the excursions on the in cabin television, in a brochure, in shore talks, and at the excursion desk. I have seen very little recommending going on on the cruises I have taken.

    But in the interest of customer service, NCL needs to respond and perhaps offer $100 off a future cruise–not for the accident but for them dropping the ball by not responding in the first place.

  • Icemixer

    Thanks for your valuable comments. Unfortunately I bought my trip insurance for my upcoming cruise from NCL. Next time I’ll look elsewhere.  

  • Alan

     This is exactly the sort of situation that her travel insurance should have taken care of. Why was travel insurance out to lunch yet again?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

     I voted yes to mediate.  Mediate doesn’t mean “get the customer everything he/she wants”.  I figure Chris knows how to get in touch with NCL and can get NCL and the Sturners talking.

    (Should I be saying Chris or Christopher, BTW?)

    As an aside – my granddaughter will be 8 this year.  I’m a very active grandma at age 51.  I hike, backpack, canoe and kayak.  The picture I put with my profile isn’t large enough to show the timber rattlesnake I’m holding as part of a field trip I took last year.  Not all of us grandmas are sucking oxygen from a tank as we hobble about with our canes!  :)

  • Clare

     Obviously nobody forced this woman to participate in this activity against her will, but I do know that there’s real pressure on staffers to foist these sorts of additional packages on tourists.  An acquaintance of mine works at beach resorts as a scuba-diving tour leader, and she has told me of the demands put on her by the resort-owners to push, push, push these diving excursions on anyone and everyone, whether it seems suitable for them or not!  It’s all about the money, and there is little or no concern for the best interests of the potential customers…
    I totally agree with Chris, at a minimum this woman’s letter deserved an answer, even if the answer was “no, sorry”!  The woman isn’t asking for the moon here.  And Chris raises a good question as to whether it was appropriate to suggest this sort of excursion to the woman and her grandson–because it’s very possible that the suggestion would have been made regardless of whether or not it was appropriate. 

  • phil

    The crew that suggested this event for the grandmother and grandson may in fact have been thinking about the “rich commission” they would make from selling this excursion. However, the grandmother along with the grandfather should have had enough “mature” sense to realize this something that could included some dangerous aspects and should have had the realization that is was more than likely something the grandmother should not participate in. 

  • BillC

    Most cruise excursions have a description where they mention how strenuous the activity is and who should not participate. I see no problem with the cruise line recommending the activity. There is no mention of the woman’s age or physical ability. If she had not slipped we would not have had an article entitled ‘Cruise lines recommending dangerous activities to grandmothers’. 

    This was a case of someone (of any age) slipping on a rock and not being able to enjoy the rest of their vacation. If this had happened while on vacation anywhere else I doubt that the family would be after their hotel or the city to compensate them. Even if an employee recommended the activity. If NCL wanted to be nice they could offer something but I would not hold it against them if they did not.

  • John

     Very informative article. I definetly learnt a a lot. Just wanted to let you know, there’s this great book that tells you how to make the most of your blog. I found it amazing. Hope you like it too.

  • don satow

     I don’t think whether it was or was not safe for a grandmother, whether or not its was a faulty recommendation, or whether she should have gone through proper channels is irrelevant.  The fact of the matter is, someone should have responded by now with an official statement.  Cruises are a very expensive way to travel and a service industry.  As a service industry, they should care about the end customer enough to respond.  In proper fashion, the CEO does not have to answer this correspondence (that could set a bad precedence) but should have shunted it to the proper department.  That department should have sent at least a form letter saying it received the complaint and like Elliot noted, could have sent a few coupons for their next trip just as a good will gesture.) but should have shunted it to the proper department.  That department should have sent at least a form letter saying it received the complaint and like Elliot noted, could have sent a few coupons for their next trip just as a good will gesture.

  • blondiesez

     oh, for pity’s sake. The cruise line is to blame because the traveler either couldn’t be bothered to use common sense in regards to her ability to safely traverse uneven trails, or suffered an unfortunate accident?  At what point can we reasonably expect people to take responsibility for their own choices and actions?

  • JJWeldon

    How about some common sense.  Grandma and a 10 year old on a zip line?  Please.  “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  • Fmslater

    Chris, there are some major points here to consider and they will follow.  NCL is not liable and no you should not negotiate.

    First, what does she mean by “the cruise line recommended it to her”?  Was it part of the shore excursion brochure, part of a group presentation of shore excursions, recommended on their web site, etc.?  The web site “rates” the level of the difficulty, etc. and it sounds like a free choice made on her part.
    Second, she is a “grandmother”.  This has nothing to do with slipping on a wet rock.  Being a grandmother doesn’t make you feable or clumsy.  I am in my 70s and still am active and just a few years ago did zip lines in Tulum.
    Third, asking for a do over.  Come on.  I am sure they all ate well, the husband and grandson may have actively pursued other activities throughout the rest of the cruise, being wheel chair bound does not prevent you from eating, enjoying the shows, etc.

    It would be interesting to see the ship records whether she went on shore at future ports of call, what her husband and grandson did in these ports, etc.

    Asking for a do over is far beyond any reasonable compensation.  NCL should have responded of course even if it was just a “sorry” that happened.

    Chris, I would guess you have better cases to involve yourself than this one.  The grandmother slipped on a wet rock. Not her fault because people slip but certainly not the fault of the cruise line nor even the provider of service.

    Spend your time on a more deserving case. 

  • Sandra Sheldon

    I am 69 years old, and could easily be a great-grandmother.  The age of these persons is not even relevant. My husband and I did the zip line excursion in Belize last year and thought it was a great experience.  Anyone who agrees to trek through a rain forest should realize that accidents can happen. But I feel the non-response of NCL is unacceptable.  In our many years of cruising, we have steered clear of NCL because of this and numerous other reports of this nature about this particular cruise line.  Disregard for their guests’ issues seems to be the norm.

  • Carver


    I agree with much of what you posted.  I think Chris’ statement “an accident happens because of the direct result of a travel company’s recommendation.”   is spot on.  The travel company should never have recommended such a trip.

  • Mark K

    The cruise line didn’t leave her stranded in a foreign port of call.  They got her the appropriate medical attention she needed.  While no mention was made of the actual cost to the OP of that treatment, since there is no complaint of being charged it is appropriate to think that this cost was covered either by the cruise line or insurance the OP had.  Sounds to me like the cruise line did enough.

    I know a couple people who broke a leg on a cruise excursion and were left at the port to find their own way home because the cruise line stated they did not have appropriate medical facilities on board to insure proper care for the remainder of the trip and could not accept the liability.  So things could have been much worse for this OP.

    Things happen.  Too bad what happened was as bad as it was.  At least there was no permanent disability from the accident.

  • Guest

    Don’t moderate. Bad form for NCL not to answer, but regardless, to ask for any sort of compensation is ludicrous, and its claims like these that give legitimate complainers a bad name (and makes it harder for them to get resolutions).

    Any time someone mentions slip-and-fall, there’s a possibility of a lawsuit. Perhaps NCL was concerned that any answer might construe admitting liability. Sadly, because of people like Ms. Sturner, companies sometimes feel they have to raise their shields instead of acting in good faith.

    If the Sturners can’t figure out that an excursion into rain forests carries risks, perhaps they should stick to staycations. If they *can* figure that out – well, they have their answer to whether NCL should compensate them, don’t they?

    Mr. and Mrs. Sturner, accidents happen. Stop looking for someone to pay, because you’re making life more difficult for the rest of us. And if you disagree, why not sue your shoe manufacturer. Or God for creating slippery rainforests.

  • Guest

    I do not feel she deserves points for asking politely. Her request is still ridiculous. If I say “May I please shoot you in the leg?” does that mean you ought to say yes?

  • suz

    A concierge desk is not there to evaluate health or ability. Lots of older people do activities outdoors and have a great time. She knows her fitness skill better than a perfect stranger at an activities desk (who many not have even seen her if she called in to speak to someone).

    But more importantly, the activity had nothing to do with her injury. She could have fallen on a wet rock walking off the boat. This is just an accident. Honestly, she would have been safer in the Zipline with a harness and helmet. 

    I think she deserves a nice response, but not a “do over.”

  • flutiefan

     they can “recommend” anything they want.  doesn’t mean the customer has to do it.

  • Absherlock

    I voted no because I think mediation will either result in a “no” or in something she doesn’t deserve.  

  • flutiefan

    Chris, i realize the poll is very close.  please please use your sense to override the verdict and DO NOT mediate this case.

    should NCL have responded to her original letter? of course.  but who’s to say they actually received it?  did she sent it certified/return receipt?  sending it directly to the CEO just invites misrouting.
    if the OP had sent her letter to the Customer Relations/Services department, and put a CC: CEO on there, it would have been much more effective and in all probability, it would’ve been answered.

    instead, she bypassed all normal channels and went straight to the top.

    i don’t think her request was greedy, but more a case of “well, we *are* complaining about something, might as well throw in a way to entice us to return”.

  • Beachglassandseastars

    Chris – I am so disappointed in your using the fact that she was a grandmother to put forward the case that maybe the cruise line should not have recommended this excursion. Please see some of the other comments above regarding grandmothers (particularly the one from Jeanne). I am 57, grandmother to a 9 year old. I backpack, kayak, hike, run….and the trails in the Pacific NW are often primitive and unmaintained. Being a grandmother (or grandfather for that matter) has nothing to do with anything.
    Would the same concern, and feeling that they were entitled to compensation apply, if the cruise director had recommended that they go into town and check out the local shops, and the grandmother had stepped off a curb, fallen, and broken several ribs?  Doubtful.
    I do think the cruise line owes them a response – and a personal one, not a form letter.  However, I don’t think they are owed any more than that.  Some have suggested a $100 credit for their next cruise….from what I understand about the cost of cruises that would almost be more of an insult than no compensation at all 

  • Christopher Elliott

    No offense was meant to the grandmothers of the world. I think I might have phrased that paragraph a little more tactfully. My apologies.

  • Michelle Cox

    I voted yes, but have changed my mind.  I guess if you are having a slow week, sending an email on her behalf wouldn’t hurt.  I really sympathize with this person and hope she had a quick recovery.   I don’t think the person was in the wrong for asking for a do-over and I think she did it tactfully enough.  However she got her response (which was a no response).  Maybe she could resend the email to the appropriate department, but I think going straight to the CEO was an over kill.   Someone in the middle management would probably have better response rates.  Even if they say no she shouldn’t hold it against NCL for not going above and beyond, because they seemed to treat her right otherwise.  Good luck on your next cruise, I hope that one is a better one. 

  • Cheryl

     I’ll be 54 this year, my sons are 18 & 14, and I’m not a grandmother yet! There will be about 20 members of my immediate family heading out on a zip line, canopy tour this summer and I can’t wait!
    I agree with many who said a few $100 certificates towards another cruise would be nice, but certainly not necessary.  The tours on cruises are pretty concrete in saying that the cruise ship is not responsible for accidents incurred!

  • Glenbrooktravel

    Yes, you should get involved only because NCL neglected their valued clients.  Service is the name of the game even if it is only a form letter. By getting involved NCL hopefully will get the message they need to respond to customer inquires, even if the slip and fall was not of their doing. As a travel agent I would expect NCL to address the issue.

  • Travelguy

    I voted yes, but only because the cruise line has failed to respond at all.  I’ve been on nearly 70 cruises and a few times I’ve sent a letter saying that I didn’t expect anything, but wanted them to be aware of a problem or concern.  Almost without fail I’ve been sent a voucher to use on a future cruise and a thank you for taking the time to contact them.  If I had an accident while on a cruise, a small gesture would certainly make me feel as thought they cared about me and having my business, but to completely ignore my letter would send me packing to another cruise line.

  • djp

    NCL is partially liable for this accident for a few reasons….

    1. It was recommended by one of their employees who was likely on some commission for signing people up for such a tour.

    2.  Their is an inherent expectation by passangers that the off boat excursions are safe to the passangers.  If they are looking at profit over safety then they are liable.

    3.  If they nare a frequent cruise customer and their status seems to say such, then normal customer service protocals should take place in giving them some sort of discount on a future cruise.

    IMHO….I think their legal department has taken over this case because they know the company IS LIABLE for this aqccident and if they ever got a good lawyer they could take NCL to the cleaners.

  • Lync0907

     With all the endless opportunitites we now can easily enjoy with travel, most people just do not “get it”.  This ain’t Disney!  It is the rain forest!  How many people have you seen at Dunn’s River Falls falling all over the rocks scraping knees, breaking wrists etc?  It is nature!  When I was at the Grand Canyon several years ago- one guy had to climb down to a ledge of a better photo.  He fell and lacerated a tendon in his hand. Our bus tour had to take him to the ER!!   Another time I was in the DR and a woman’s horse slipped on horse poop and threw her to the ground whereby she broke both wrists.  Accidents happen in the outdoors. What are these people thinking? 

  • Monica

    I said no to mediation. The cruise cannot be held responsible for what happens to passengers once they leave the ship. What if it wasn’t an excursion? What if I went down some trail on my own and fell? Is it still the cruise line’s fault? And with a zip line excursion in the rainforest, I’m sure there were additional liability waivers she had to sign. That’s SOP for this type of activity. Even indoor gyms make you sign a waive before they will put a harness on you.

    The few cruises I’ve been on have always been clear that the excursions are operated by a third party and have no affiliation with the cruise line. It sounds like the cruise line went out of it’s way to help her after she was back on the ship. While I think they should have at least sent her an apology letter for what happened to her, I don’t think they owe her anything.

  • Crissy

    I don’t think the cruise line owes her anything.  However, acknowledging her and maybe a future cruise credit of $100 or $200 would be nice. 

  • MikeZ

    Agreed. The customer is the one who should have realized that a zipline excursion might be a little too much for their age. I am also guessing that others who went on this excursion did not get hurt.  The cruise line is not at fault and IMHO should not owe the OP anything.

  • Guest

    My Mom is 63 and has a 10 year old granddaughter.  She sent me 6 videos last night from her white water kayaking this past weekend, she started kayaking when she was 50.  Chris maybe you are ready for the old folks home but that doesn’t mean everyone is! 

  • Guest

    She slipped and fell on a rock while in the jungle in a 3rd world country.  That doesn’t mean ziplining to “too much” for her, it means WALKING is too much for her. 

  • Guest

    I voted yes but only because NCL should have sent her SOME sort of response.  To not respond at all is very poor customer service. 

  • Oregoncycle

    For several years I owned and operated a shore excursion that relied primary  on cruise ships for customers. They required that I have additional insurance that listed them on my policies.  They also benefited from 50% of my rate.

    As such they were (forget their contract with the passengers) a partner in my business as I would believe that they are in bed with the Zip line company.  As the cruise line sells the product and collects the money they can’t hide behind their no fault exclusion clause.

    The Cruise lines inspect each shore excursion to insure that they meet the standards for safety before they partner up. Slipping on wet rocks is no different then a wet tile floor on the ship. Without a well defined warning of the hazards involved a passenger has an expectation that with the exceptions of unexpected hazards that anything the ship puts them on is safe.

    This is typicial of the cruise lines to hide behind a contract that in many cases the exceptions listed are there on paper but do not have a real legal leg to stand on.  

  • John B.

    I voted yes for you to get involved.  Not to try to directly gain anything for her, rather for the purpose of informing her or forwarding her letter to the correct department so that she get’s some response. That she contacted you does not mean she’s a reader of your column or e-mails nor famaliar with your past advice.  From reading this post and others it seems many people don’t know who or which dept to contact so they go right to the “boss” which is usually not the place to go. OTOH by your responding you may be more involved than you’d want to be. Perhaps a form letter from you or your staff recommending who she might send her letter to.
    John B.

  • john4868

    The only reason why Chris shoudl be involved is to get her answer. IMHO opinon that answer should be “Sorry but No.” She tripped and fell on a natural part of the environment not a man made obstruction.

    I would feel differently if her harness failed and she was hurt or they came back and said theat she had to scale a cliff. Neither of those seem to be the case her. I don’t know how you even hold the tour operator a fault.

  • Karla Katz

    How about a little personal responsibility on the part of the grandmother? Did she question the trail’s accessibility for someone her age?

  • mrs_duffy

    I think we’d need more info to make the right decision.  How old is Mary, what type of condition is she in?   Did Mary have some type of concerns about more active tours, like
    mobility issues?  Did she mention those to the person who recommended
    the tour? 

    Grandmother doesn’t necessarily equal old and frail.  If Mary was a healthy 55 year old woman (which would be a plausible age to have a 10 year old grandson), why couldn’t she go on a hike/zipline tour?  Why wouldn’t the excursion desk recommend this tour? 

    Slipping on a rock seems like an unfortunate accident to me.  Someone could slip and fall in most any excursion, whether it be in the rain forest or on a city walking tour. 

    I do agree that she deserves a reply to her letters. 

  • Suzanne

    @djp Did you read the article? She did NOT get hurt
    while doing this activity, she slipped on a rock. If she fell from the zipline
    and hurt her back, they would have a case. But slipping on a rock has nothing to
    do with riding on a zipline.

    Plus .. guests should know there is an adherent risk with
    any outdoor activity. There is no way to make the outdoors 100% safe – it’s
    impossible to do.


  • Guest

    I voted no on this.  This was an accident.  Plain and simple, accidents happen.  They may cause you to miss out on vacation time, but she could have fallen back at home as well.  I don’t see making the cruise line pay anything, even a future credit for something that was clearly an accident at no faulty of anyone’s.  As for her taking the recommendation of the cruise line, it was just that, a recommendation, she could have said no and have done a differenct excursion. 

    I also could see her not getting a response from the cruise line, and wonder if she sent her letter certified mail?  If not, how does she know (or anyone else) that the letter was received.  The post office does make mistakes.  The next letter went to legal because of wording, if it even reached there.   

  • flutiefan

     prove that they received the letter in the first place….

  • flutiefan

     perhaps they failed to respond because no one ever saw the letter?
    she sent it to the CEO, maybe at some figurehead “address” that really houses a call center, who knows?  she didn’t send it to their customer service people!
    i’m sure a regular plain envelope addressed to the CEO got thrown out with the junk mail anyway.

  • flutiefan

     as mentioned several times, nobody knows if NCL ever received the letter!

  • gratianus

    First off, since we don’t know how old the grandparents are (you imply they are too old to even think about zip lining), we don’t know how old the grandparents are  to decide whether it made sense for them to do this activity. More importantly, it was the Sturmers who decided they could do it. What they didn’t anticipate that a slippery rock might cause an accident. It was an accident, not something that anyone could anticipate. However, if the Sturmers have a beef it is with the zip line operator, and to the extent that the cruise line operator is an agent for the operator, also with the cruise line (whose contractual languatge absolves it of any laibility). Either they should be seeking compensation from the zip line operator or they  should be leaning on the cruise line for putting them in the hands of a company that did not take adequate care (which brings us back to the initial issue: they signed up for the activity and most likely signed a waiver before climbing up to the first zip line station).

  • deemery

     If the cruise line had responded, then I’d probably be in the “no” camp.  But I think it’s unacceptable for the cruise line to ignore this customer, and that’s the primary basis I voted yes.  It’s not necessarily to get any real financial credit, but rather to make sure the cruise line responds to a (apparently loyal) customer.

  • Guest

    You are the only one saying that maybe they didn’t get the letter. 

    I’m sure the letter was received, more than likely it was and she deserves a response.   

  • Lindabator

    How do you know she even HAD any??? 

  • Lindabator

    For slipping on a rock???   You must be one of those folks who loves suing when you walk over the open manhole with the warning sign clearly stating the danger. 

  • Andi330

    Grandmother could actually mean a woman as young as 40 if she and her child both had children at a very young age. With no actual age of the woman in question in the article, I find it hard to decide if this was a poor recommendation based on age.

    Even if the OP is of an age where the recommendation was a poor one based on age, the OP needs to take responsibility for her own choices. Generally, zip lines require some athletic ability. Not professional, or even high school level sports, but still, you usually have to walk along trails in a wood to get to them. She made the decision to go, whether it was based on a recommendation from the cruise line or not. At that point, she took responsibility for the consequences of that decision. Certainly, I do not think the cruise line is responsible, particularly as they do not appear to own or operate the actual zip line company, if anyone owes her compensation (and for a slip on a rock I don’t think anyone does) it would be the company doing the zip line.

    Should the cruise line have responded to her request? Yes. Do they owe her anything? No.

  • Andi330

    Ok, forgot to add in my math, if she was 20 when she had her child and her child had their first at 20 and that child is now 10, she would be 50, not 40. Regardless, still of an age where she might have been perfectly capable of participating in this type of outing.

  • flutiefan

     you’re still right. 15-year-olds can (and sadly, do) have children. that next generation can repeat the cycle, making a grandmother at age 30. given that this grandma has a 10-yr-old grandson, she could conceivably be 40.

    (i’m 35 and can’t imagine being a mom, much less a grandmother in 5 years!)

  • flutiefan

     sorry, read again. i’m not the only one.

  • Dave

    Can’t tell if the voting is still open; didn’t get notified of this post until 2 days after it appeared.  In any event, I vote no.  The only fault of NCL at this point is a failure to respond.

    I agree with the many who have posted that it’s the OP’s responsibility to determine the suitability of the excursion.  Besides, it appears to have been an honest accident.  It would sure be nice to go back to the days when I was growing up and people understood that accidents are a fact of life.  As the (polite version) saying goes, stuff happens.

  • kenish

    The accident was certainly unfortunate.  I voted ‘no’, as I presume NCL’s contract states they are not responsible for misfortunes ashore. I’ve never used NCL but if they are like all other cruiselines the contract is available before making a deposit, and has to be signed as “understood and accepted” before final payment.  We go for active / adventure tours, and even the sedate ones require an additional waiver to be signed.

    Payment for medical expenses is unclear- but since it received praise, I presume NCL or the tour operator picked up the hospital and on-board expenses.  Does Mrs. Sturner realize her US health insurance probably didn’t cover her?  If so, she should feel extremely fortunate the bill was paid and the logistics of getting her to a hospital were handled.  Unlike the US, many countries can refuse emergency treatment without prepayment.  And, if coordination and payment were made through trip insurance, then definitely no further compensation is legally or morally required.

    The Sturner’s letter was very polite and NCL did owe a response but dropped the ball.  (Even if their letter was nasty they were owed a reply).

  • Nigel

    I voted yes – if only to remind NCL that all correspondance should be acknowledged. I think as do others, a letter and a credit of $100.00 towards another cruise would be appropriate.
    I also agree Travel Insurance – Travel Insurance – Travel Insurance. But as I didn’t see any mention of bills for medical treatment perhaps they had travel insurance. 

  • judyserienagy

    More WHINERS!  But the travel provider should always pro-actively extend sympathy and concern when an accident happens.  It’s just dumb to ignore any paying customer no matter what they want.