Key Points of This Article:
- Cruise ships are built to confine a large number of people, making travelers prone to infectious diseases, resulting in ten outbreaks in 2019, as well as several outbreaks of the novel coronavirus in 2020.
- The industry representing ships like the Diamond Princess and Holland America’s MS Zaandam has been disrupted by the spread of coronavirus, leaving more than 700 passengers and staff infected or dead worldwide, and leaving thousands more quarantined at sea.
- Cruise lines do have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep their passengers and crew safe from harm, including protection against infectious diseases such as coronavirus.
- At least 32 cruise ships have now been affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in exposure to the disease, extended quarantine stays onboard, and in some tragic cases, death.
Because cruise ships are designed to accommodate a large number of people, using shared and confined spaces, passengers are highly susceptible to infectious diseases such as coronavirus. COVID-19 is caused by the new novel coronavirus – now responsible for a global pandemic. Coronavirus is a respiratory disease which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.
In 2019 alone, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported ten infectious disease outbreaks on cruise ships. In 2020, it is the new novel coronavirus making cause for great concern. While the total number of confirmed infections on cruise ships continues to grow steadily, the CDC also indicates over 700 people on at least 13 different cruise ships worldwide have tested positive for the highly contagious virus. In many of these cases, U.S. ports refuse to accept passengers during outbreaks, possibly causing an even further reckless spread of the disease, and leaving many without the proper medical care.
Whether you were a cruise ship passenger or a staff member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is advised that you speak with a coronavirus cruise ship attorney about your legal rights as soon as possible.
List of Cruise Ships Hit the Hardest by COVID-19
The Diamond Princess is the first known cruise ship to have been quarantined with positive COVID-19 patients onboard. Since this first outbreak, nearly all ships operated by Princess Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, have been impacted by the virus in some way. This includes trip cancelations or rerouting, being quarantined off the coast of other countries, lagging sicknesses and deaths to passengers, and many individuals traveling without access to the proper medical care. Princess cruises contaminated with coronavirus include:
On the Diamond, almost 20% of passengers were infected by the time disembarking was finally granted. The U.S. Embassy helped evacuate the 338 U.S. citizens to Travis Air Force Base in California on February 17, 2020.
The Grand Princess cruise ship was delivered and quarantined off the coast of San Francisco, California, after a 71-year-old man passenger died of coronavirus. The Grand Princess was set for Hawaii before being quarantined with more than 2,383 passengers and 1,100 crew members on board. The California National Guard administered tests to suspected cases, and passengers showing symptoms of the infection were left isolated in their rooms. On March 9, 2020, the government began the release of the passengers at the Port of Oakland in California. Approximately 900 U.S. citizens on board were then placed under quarantine on military bases.
Other cruise lines responding to coronavirus outbreaks and denied entry to ports, include:
- Holland America
- Celebrity Solstice
- Costa Magica
- Nile River Cruise Ship
- World Dream
- Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of Seas
- Costa Smeralda
According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, approximately 6,000 cruise ship passengers were still aboard Princess/Carnival cruise line ships as of Monday, March 30, 2020. Holland America’s MS Zaandam has reported four dead passengers and 138 who remain sick with flu-like symptoms, similar to coronavirus symptoms.
Cruise Ship Operators Should Take Extra Precautionary Measures Against Infectious Disease
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents 90% of cruise operators, announced various precautionary measures being implemented by its members, including a complete shutdown of U.S. trips. On March 14, 2020, the group initiated a temporary suspension of U.S. operations for 30 days due to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic impacting passengers, including crew.
“CLIA cruise line members are voluntarily and temporarily suspending operations from the U.S. as we work to address this public health crisis,” said Kelly Craighead, President and CEO, CLIA. “This is an unprecedented situation. Our industry has taken responsibility for protecting public health for more than 50 years, working under the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and prides itself on its ability to deliver exceptional vacation experiences for guests, as well as meaningful employment opportunities for crew. This has been a challenging time, but we hope that this decision will enable us to focus on the future and a return to normal as soon as possible.”
Unfortunately, the industry’s slow response to initial pandemic warnings may have aided the deadly spread of COVID-19.
What Should You Do If You or a Loved One Became Infected by Coronavirus Onboard a Cruise Ship?
Cruise ships do have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep their passengers from harm, and all vessels must be fitted with onboard medical facilities, overseen by medical professionals available around the clock to provide medical care in the event of illness, and help prevent disease transmission. Passengers who were harmed with physical injuries due to the immediate danger of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, can file a lawsuit due to gross negligence against a cruise ship who chose to continue its voyage knowing passengers could be exposed to a disease.
If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with coronavirus onboard a cruise ship or while waiting in port during a quarantine, you should speak with an attorney to learn about the compensation you may be entitled to. Cruise lines are protected by a strong shield of lawyers helping many to operate without being held accountable. Still, as one of the largest personal injury law firms in Michigan, much of our practice is devoted to handling the toughest lawsuits, and we have recovered millions of dollars in financial compensation for our clients’ losses.
Were You Sickened by Coronavirus While a Passenger on a Cruise Ship?
Our highest satisfaction comes from winning or settling a case, and knowing our clients can rest more comfortably when their medical care, lost wages, and other expenses are being taken care of, especially in a great time of uncertainty. If you or your loved one has fallen ill by coronavirus on a cruise ship or died because of COVID-19 exposure, contact us today for your FREE consultation by calling 1-800-LEE-FREE.
Our office is looking into some of the cruise ship cases that have happened with COVID-19. In particular, the folks who are trapped and were not able to get off in a proper and timely fashion. We’re also looking into cases where folks were not given refunds. Really the cruise lines have not been really prompt and adequate in the way they’ve handled cancellations when they have occurred, and at least pointing those people out in the right direction so they can at least help get their money back.
Some folks have contracted COVID-19 obviously while on the cruise ship, for a cruise they didn’t want to go on but they couldn’t get their money back on. That they decided to go on, okay? That they were told was going to be safe. They were told was fine. That when they got on they said no one who is exhibiting symptoms like fever and cough will be on the ship. They were told all these things, and then lo and behold, they get on the ship and they’re exposed and people have gotten sick. So we are looking into those types of situations as well. But what’s going on with the cruise industry is just tragic.