Carnival condemned for Covid cruise

Carnival Cruise Lines soon might have to spend a little bit less on cruise ship roller coasters and a little bit more on Covid lawsuit settlements.  

What happened: Australia’s Federal Court ordered Carnival, the world’s largest cruise line, to cover the medical expenses of a passenger who caught Covid during an outbreak aboard one of their ships in March 2020, which resulted in almost 700 Covid cases and 28 deaths. 

  • The Ruby Princess set sail that month despite the pandemic very much being a thing. Carnival’s CEO said it was “a less risky environment” than on land… it was not.  

  • The court ruled that Carnival was “negligent and in breach of their duty of care” and misled passengers about the safety of going on the cruise. 

Zoom out: The ruling is the first-ever class action victory against a cruise line, which are notoriously difficult to win suits against due to complex maritime and corporate laws. This ruling is just one case within a larger, still-ongoing class-action lawsuit with 1,000 plaintiffs.

  • International waters make it hard to determine legal jurisdictions, while contracts that passengers sign before boarding often have clauses restricting lawsuits.

  • The win is a positive sign for the numerous Covid lawsuits filed by passengers and employees. 

Why it matters: Cruises were singled out as superspreader vessels very early into the pandemic. Between February 2020 and March 2021, over 4,200 people caught Covid while aboard a cruise, per CruiseMapper, including three mass outbreaks. 

Yes, but: Cruise lines should be well-equipped to pay up. The industry has bounced back in a big way this year despite the bad press of the Covid era. Per the Cruise Lines International Association, 31.5 million people will take a cruise in 2023, surpassing 2019 numbers.—QH