While many cruise companies insist that they acted as quickly and efficiently as possibly – in adherence with strict disembarking restrictions – following the record number of infected passengers, and countless on-board quarantines, many customers – and even some crewmembers – have decided to file lawsuits against cruise operatives.
“These claims are enormous – nothing the industry’s seen before with so many passengers fallen sick and bringing suit,” said Martin Davies, Director of the US-based Tulane Maritime Law Center at Tulane University Law School.
Carnival currently has 22 lawsuits pending against it, while Celebrity Cruises, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, is facing a proposed class-action lawsuit filed by crewmembers who insist they were insufficiently protected against the virus while working.
Lawsuits facing the Grand Princess, a Princess Cruises vessel, allege that the cruise liner was aware that some people aboard had Covid-19 symptoms when the ship docked and boarded new passengers in San Francisco on 21 February for a cruise to Hawaii. The lawsuits also allege that it wasn’t until two weeks after the proceeding voyage began on the same vessel, that the cruise liner warned passengers that they may have been exposed to Covid-19 on the previous voyage and began testing passengers.
However, Bari Golin-Blaugrund, a spokeswoman for the Cruise Lines International Association, reasoned: “[Cruise lines] took immediate and aggressive action based on the information that was available when it was available every step of the way. Importantly, all decisions were based upon the expertise and guidance of prevailing health authorities.”
As far as the lawsuits go, it’s worth noting that the built-in legal protections of cruise tickets mean most companies are likely largely safeguarded against many of the litigations brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. But the outcomes of the court hearings remain to be seen.