The cruise industry seems to be saving pennies even at the cost of safety, as it “does all it can to save money on labor and as a result this leads to the ships not being as safe as they can and should be”, Michael A. Winkleman, attorney with law firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, told World Maritime News while speaking on lawsuits recently filed against Royal Caribbean Cruises.
Namely, the Miami-based cruise company was served with two lawsuits from Anthem of the Seas’ passengers after the cruise ship sailed through a severe hurricane-force storm with nine-metre waves and winds of 65 knots off Cape Hatteras jeopardizing their safety and with some passengers sustaining minor injuries.
According to the lawsuits, Royal Caribbean chose to sail the vessel, carrying some 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew, even though the storm had been forecast before the ship set sail from Cape Liberty, New Jersey on a scheduled seven-night cruise to the Bahamas.
Winkleman said that “it was a reckless and irresponsible decision to sail directly into the path of a known hurricane knowing that its passengers would be subject to the terrifying conditions they faced.”
Following the incident, Royal Caribbean informed that it identified gaps in the voyage planning system and started working on improving the performance. Winkleman confirmed that the company “has already changed its policies” and that this incident could prevent other cruise lines from similar behavior in the future.
Of the two lawsuits, one seeks class action status for passengers, and both seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Winkleman said that at this point the number of passengers who have joined the lawsuits “is roughly 200 to 250”, adding that the court proceedings would likely last several years.
He said that he could not comment on what may be fair compensation amount for the passengers, adding that there was no mention of a potential settlement.
Royal Caribbean has not yet commented on the litigation, Winkleman concluded.
World Maritime News Staff