Due to a fatal shore excursion in Chichen Itza last year, families of passengers on a Holland America cruise have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the company. The passengers were on a Holland America-organized shore excursion, flying over Mayan ruins on a small plane. Wire service reports say that the families are claiming that Holland America promoted the trip as a safe excursion and, that the airplane type -- a Czechoslovakian LET 410 had a reputation for a high crash rate -- and that the records for the individual plane involved were incomplete.
In fact, though, passengers on any cruise line's shore excursions would be well advised to read the fine print on the back of the tickets that are issued (and use of the ticket is construed as acceptance of the conditions). A qualifier on the back of a Celebrity Cruises shore excursion ticket is common to all cruise lines, and says, in part, that the company “shall not be responsible in any way for any damage, loss, injury or death arising out of any services provided by such independent contractors.” Even more specifically: “All air arrangements made for or by the passenger for shore side excursions...are at the passengers’ risk.”
Holland America has issued a statement in response. “Lawsuits have been filed against Holland America Line and other parties related to an airplane crash in Mexico on September 12, 2001. The suits were filed on September 5, 2002 in the King County Superior Court."
“Holland America Line expresses its deepest sympathies to the loved ones and friends of the deceased. We believe that Holland America Line has no fault in this incident. We regret that some have chosen to pursue lawsuits. We will defend the suits and expect dismissals."
“Since this matter is under litigation, the company has no further comments.”