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