Royal Caribbean FlowRider Passenger Injury Lawsuit

Royal Caribbean FlowRider Passenger Injury Lawsuit
Royal Caribbean FlowRider Passenger Injury Lawsuit
Symphony of the Seas Flowrider Warnings

Royal Caribbean FlowRider Passenger Injury Lawsuit –  There is a line in the sand, whereby acknowledgement of physical body type and athletic skill set cross the line between logic and unrealistic super hero dreams.

A Mariner of the Seas passenger filed a lawsuit this month against Royal Caribbean after he was injured on a trampoline, when things went terribly wrong and he was severely injured. In that case, the bungee straps failed to protect the passenger.

Then on April 18, 2019, Royal Caribbean passenger Scott Brennan alleged he was injured on January 10, 2019, while using the FlowRider aboard Symphony of the Seas.

This is not the first FlowRider lawsuit filed by a cruise ship passenger; there have been numerous, and yet passengers still line up for the cruise edition of Let The Bodies Hit The Floor, or as we like to call the cruise water sport game show, Dash For The Cash.

I wonder, just really wonder, have any cruise passengers, especially those who weigh in at double their recommended body weight,  actually watched the Youtube videos of those who tried and failed FlowRider. Did anyone really, I mean REALLY considered if it will end well for them when FlowRider decides to let the body hit the floor? (see videos below)

The Royal Caribbean passenger contract states, “… FlowRider. The FlowRider® surf simulator causes 30,000 gallons of water per minute to rush underneath the rider at 30 mph creating force similar to 5-ft oceanwaves in the rear wipe-out area, whereas in the front wipe-out area the water depth may be as little as 1 inch. Although the fall area is padded, there is a high risk of injury upon falling and upon being swept by the rushing water into the back of the rear wipe-out area and forced against the back wall. Participants must be at least 58 inches tall to stand up surf and 52 inches to Boogie Board. No loose articles may be worn including knee braces, arm braces, leg braces, hats or sunglasses.”

In Heather Morris v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd, alleged, “This case arises out of severe injuries sustained by Plaintiff while on a Royal Caribbean Cruise. On or about September 12 2010, Plaintiff traveled as a paying passenger aboard Defendant’s vessel the Oasis of the Seas.[D.E. 7,  7]. On said date, the Plaintiff participated in an attraction onboard the Oasis of the Seas called the FlowRider Surfing Simulator (hereinafter “FlowRider”).” The case was dismissed on August 3, 2012, after a settlement was reached.

Royal Caribbean advertises the FlowRider as, ” The surf’s always up on the 40-foot-long FlowRider® surf simulator. Grab your board and get ready, 30,000 gallons of rushing awesome are headed your way. Carve like a pro — or just try to stay upright — while friends cheer you on from the stadium seating.”

The lawsuit, Scott Brennan v Royal Caribbean Cruises alleges, “Plaintiff was riding Defendant RCCL’s FlowRider when he suffered a traumatic neck injury.  The FlowRider is an attraction that shoots a three-inch sheet of water up a sloped surface at a high velocity to simulate the surface of a wave. Users then attempt to ride this sheet of water on a board either laying down or standing up.

Defendant has actual knowledge that the FlowRider often causes passengers to fall, including through loss of balance, as evident in their online marketing for the attraction “[o]nly Royal Caribbean gives you the chance to catch a wave right onboard. Grab a board and hang ten on our 40-foot-long surf simulator, or cheer on friends from stadium seating with prime wipeout views.”

Symphony of the Seas Flowrider Promotion
Symphony of the Seas Flowrider Promotion

As a minimum threshold for allowing passengers on to the FlowRider, Defendant’s own rules and restrictions require that riders be at a minimum 58 inches tall if they are standing on the boards while riding. Guests underneath this height are typically not allowed to ride the attraction.

Upon information and belief, on the date of the subject incident, the subject FlowRider was malfunctioning and propelling water at a higher velocity than normal, therefore unreasonably putting its passenger participants at a higher risk of injury.

The FlowRider onboard the Symphony of the Seas is different from a standard FlowRider, because employees and/or agents of RCCL modified it by shortening its overall length in order to fit the attraction on the deck of the cruise ship.

Due to this shorter length, a person propelled up the surface of the “wave” can be thrown into the back wall at a very high velocity, since unlike a standard flow rider, the back wall of the attraction is much closer to the “wave” front. This makes an already inherently dangerous attraction even more dangerous, such that it becomes unreasonably dangerous. This is not an obvious danger of which a passenger should be aware.

The FlowRider onboard the Symphony of the Seas is different from the current FlowRiders being manufactured. FlowRiders now utilize “Pillow Padding” in the recovery zones of FlowRiders in order to help support falls and decrease injuries. RCCL does not utilize the upto- date technology, therefore unreasonably putting its passenger participants at a higher risk of injury.

RCCL does not conform to the policies utilized and recommended by the FlowRider manufacturer.

According to the FlowRider manufacturer, “Riding a FlowRider takes skill, balance and most importantly, practice…That learning curve takes time and dedication.” RCCL allows its passengers, without any prior practice, acclimation through evaluation of the potential participant’s athletic ability (i.e., balance and skill), to attempt to stand on a board, without sufficient assistance, while a sheet of water is shot out at an extremely high velocity. This results in passengers suffering devastating falls and sustaining serious injuries. Passenger injuries due to participating in the FlowRider aboard RCCL’s vessels are occurring and have
been occurring at a high rate, yet RCCL does not alter its policies, nor adequately inform its passengers of the high rate of injuries.

In a 2008 meeting between Wave Loch (the original FlowRider manufacturer) and RCCL, Wave Lock recommended that RCCL display a warning sign showing a skull and cross bones as an indicator of the serious risk of injury or even death associated with the FlowRider. RCCL ignored Wave Loch’s recommendations.

Additionally, RCCL does not include adequate warnings on its website advertising the FlowRider regarding the potential to being seriously injured and/or killed.
Moreover, RCCL does not place adequate signs at the FlowRider, warning potential passenger participants of the potential to be seriously injured and/or killed while participating in the FlowRider.” [false: see actual sign above]

If you think the Flowrider is a perfectly safe cruise ship activity for those who are risk-adverse, think again. In the video below, more than 60 passengers tried to go with the flow, with disappointing results. It’s not easy to master, as you can see in our first video of our ten video Flowrider playlist.  Yet, more than 60 people thought they had what it takes to surf like PRO Surfer Tony Hawk. After the first video, there are more which show how the PRO Surfers do it, including Tony Hawk and another which actually films passengers on Symphony of the Seas.

After watching the video playlist, you decide if you have what it takes to impress Flowrider spectators, or to become a viral Youtube Flowrider epic fail and if you fail, would you sue the cruise line because they failed to protect you from this high risk activity?

Article Resources:

Recent Royal Caribbean Lawsuits:

Video:Funny Flowrider Wipeout Compilation (Plus more PRO Flowrider surfers)