Woman who fractured elbow on 'White Knuckle Boat Ride' sues cruise company

Dancing teacher Siobhan Kellett was on a seven-night Caribbean cruise to celebrate her 50th birthday and her silver wedding anniversary.

Woman who fractured elbow on 'White Knuckle Boat Ride' sues cruise company

A woman on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise who fractured her elbow when she took a shore excursion called a White Knuckle Boat Ride, involving 360 degrees turns in the middle of the ocean, has sued in the High Court.

Dancing teacher Siobhan Kellett was on a seven-night Caribbean cruise to celebrate her 50th birthday and her silver wedding anniversary. The trip was to finish with five days at Las Vegas to dance with her husband at a jive festival.

But she said she was thrown out of her seat and banged her elbow against the metal side of the jet boat during two 360 degree manoeuvres of the White Knuckle Boat Ride, when the couple took the pre-booked excursion when their cruise ship docked at St Martin in the West Indies.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr was told the boat ride was described as “an adrenalin-infused rush from a water rollercoaster” and included spins and speeds of 53 miles per hour which involved the thrill of holding on for dear life.

It was the fifth day of the €3,674 Caribbean cruise for Siobhan Kellett and her husband Leslie who had paid for the trip by instalments over two years.

“We were out in the middle of the ocean and I was holding on tight but I banged my head against the skipper," she said of the first 360 degree turn. The skipper then signalled for her to change places with her husband so she was on the outside seat.

On the next spin she said she was hanging on tight to the bar in front of them but she was lifted out of her seat.

'...Trying to be very, very brave'

"I remember thinking what was I going to do - tumble into the water? - but I came back down on the seat and was thrown against the side of the boat and my right arm banged against the side."

She said the pain was horrendous and she felt like a child "trying to be very, very brave" because she did not want to ruin the excursion for everybody else.

Later, back on the cruise liner she was told by a medic her elbow was not broken, but when she had an X-ray after her return to Dublin weeks later, a non-displaced fracture of her right elbow was discovered.

Siobhan Kellett (53) Rockfield Green, Maynooth, Co Kildare has sued British company RCL Cruises Ltd of Weybridge, Surrey who operated the cruise ship Freedom of the Seas and it is claimed was responsible for the excursion in St Martin in the West Indies called "The White Knuckle Boat Ride".

She has also sued Panther Associates Ltd trading as Tour America of Middle Abbey Street, Dublin where she booked the April 2016 holiday.

She has claimed there was an alleged failure to provide any or any adequate safety restraints, harness or belts on the jet boat to ensure passengers were kept safe from injury.

The claims are denied and it is contended by the defendants Ms Kellett allegedly failed to follow instructions and allegedly failed to have regard for her own safety.

In evidence Ms Kellett told Mr Justice Barr it was like "Christmas Day” when she stepped on to the ship The Freedom of the Seas at Cocoa Beach, Florida three years ago and the cruise was "just wonderful".

On the fifth day of the cruise in the West Indies they took a pre-booked boat ride which cost €120 for the couple.

She said they were given life jackets and assigned seats beside the skipper on the fibreglass boat she described as "basic-looking, like "a skip".The skipper told them to use the handrail and to peg their feet of the ground and he would give a hand signal when he was going to do the 360 degree turn on the ocean.

The accident she said brought a halt to the enjoyment of their holiday and it cast a shadow over the rest of their trip in Vegas.

Cross-examined by Jim O'Callaghan SC for the defendants, Ms Kellett said she has been on rollercoaster rides before and felt perfectly safe.

Asked by counsel did she see the boat ride as risky, she replied: “I did not see it as being dangerous at all.”

The case before Mr Justice Anthony Barr continues tomorrow.

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