A class action lawsuit has been filed against Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd on behalf of passengers who booked a cruise on the Liberty of the Seas during the week of Hurricane Harvey.
Namely, Maritime Attorney Michael Winkleman from Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman law firm, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on behalf of dozens of people who were supposed to set sail out of Galveston, Texas on August 27.
According to the law firm, the class action complaint alleges that despite Hurricane Harvey literally flooding parts of Texas, Royal Caribbean told passengers they would get no refund if they did not board.
“RCCL’s misconduct was predicated on a profit motive because, simply put, cruise lines like RCCL make no money when passengers don’t sail,” the suit states.
“RCCL’s knowing and intentional decision to effectively force individuals who had purchased a cruise aboard the Liberty of the Seas leaving August 27, 2017, to fly to Texas while it was in a state of emergency due to Hurricane Harvey, because RCCL would not cancel or modify its planned cruise. In so doing, RCCL forced hundreds of would-be passengers, including children and the elderly, to be subjected to catastrophic flooding and potential loss of life,” the suit further reads.
“We were told that despite the category 4 hurricane barreling down, the ship would set sail. We were told repeatedly…if we didn’t make it to the port, we would not be refunded,” a cruise passenger from Canada named Nikki McIntosh is quoted as saying by the law firm.
“We ended up being trapped in Houston at our own expense for 6 days, surrounded by flood waters, our hotel leaking badly. Food shortages were a concern. I didn’t know if we would have to evacuate to a shelter. It was very stressful and completely unavoidable.
“RCI should not have insisted on a sailing. They should have rebooked and offered credit instead of holding our hard earned money hostage. Between wasted flights, hotel and food, we are out over $4500,” McIntosh said.
When approached by World Maritime News for comment a RCCL Spokesperson said the company “does not comment on pending litigation.”
Hurricane Harvey left three cruise ships stranded in the Gulf of Mexico as the Port of Galveston had to be closed to all vessel traffic and commercial activities amid heavy weather.
The affected ships were Carnival’s Carnival Freedom and Carnival Breeze, and Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas cruise ship, which was forced to cancel the planned sailing for August 27.
“Due to the severe impact of Hurricane Harvey and Galveston port closure, we unfortunately have to cancel your cruise scheduled for Sunday, August 27. We are sorry for the impact that this storm has had on your vacation and appreciate your patience as we worked through this. Please know that this decision was made with your safety in mind,” RCI said earlier.
The Royal Caribbean ship was subsequently diverted to Miami until conditions at the Port of Galveston allowed for the return of cruise ships.