Cruising has gained a lot of popularity recently. 30 million passengers travel or sail on 272 cruise ships each year. The boats are the size of small cities, not the kind of vessel seen in The Love Boat. With the increased size of the vessels and the marketing of the voyages to multigenerational families including young children and the elderly, the risk to the passengers of injury or illness has increased.
Cruise ships have onboard doctors and infirmaries and can be sued for negligent hiring of the doctor or his negligence. Cruise ships also have dealt with controlling infections and hygiene for many years.
The crowded nature of the confined space in the cruise ship with many shared high touch surfaces – think railings, staircases, elevators, bars, shared utensils at buffets – makes it a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Sick crew members, who often live four or more in cramped quarters can act as vectors for the viruses, transmitting the disease.
Prior to COVID-19 Cruise ships had many instances of outbreaks of upper respiratory infections and viruses, norovirus and food poisoning. However, despite the knowledge and history of infections of outbreaks, and the unique dangers presented to its paying passengers, the Cruise ships kept sailing deep into March, even after over six ships has infected passengers with the highly contagious coronavirus and an unknown number of crew members. After the debacle with the Diamond Princess cruises should have stopped and passenger flown home. The Diamond Princess was quarantined on February 5, 2020, in Japan. But the first cruise ships' suspensions were not until March 12, 2020. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-where-are-the-cruise-ships/?srnd=premium. This is not acceptable. 712 of the 3,711 passengers members, many of the use of the Diamond Princess, or 19.2% came down with COVID-19. It had 650 crew members, many of whom also became ill. Eight people died. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e3.htm?s_cid=mm6912e3_w
From February 11-21 the Grand Princess sailed from San Francisco and made four stops in Mexico. On February 21, the Grand Princess set sail on its second voyage with a return date of March 7. It never should have embarked. Four passengers on the first voyage had COVID-19. The ship and its crew were contaminated. On the same day, the CDC issued a warning recommending Americans avoid travel on cruise ships in Southeast Asia. At least 78 people from the Grand Princess came down with SARS-Cov-02 infection. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e3.htm
If you or a loved one was a passenger on a cruise ship and was quarantined or came down with COVID-19, The Law Offices of Daniel Weltin, P.C. can help. We are experienced in maritime law, and we are experienced with cruise ship outbreak lawsuits. Passengers on the Ruby Princess, Crown Princess, Coral Princess, Diamond Princess, Zaandam, Rotterdam, Costa Magica or Costa Favolosa may be eligible for compensation.
Filing a claim or lawsuit against a cruise ship is not easy. The pre-litigation claims procedures, venue, jurisdiction and choice of law are governed by the fine print on your passenger ticket contract. Passengers who were quarantined of fell ill must act quickly, or forfeit their right to compensation. Generally, notice must be presented to the cruise line within six months of the injury or illness.
For those whose dream vacations turned into tragic bad dreams, it is advisable that experienced legal help is utilized to file a claim. We can help. All consultations are free of charge.