Cruise line sued by passengers for ‘concealing’ coronavirus infections onboard

‘This callous disregard for the safety and well-being of its passengers must be answered for,’ says complainant

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 08 April 2020 15:51 BST
Costa Luminosa
Costa Luminosa

Cruise company Carnival is being sued by passengers for “negligent misconduct” after allegedly “concealing” information about the spread of coronavirus onboard one of its ships.

The company has been accused of blocking off access to news channels in guests’ staterooms and failing to implement quarantine measures as soon as the first Covid-19 cases had been detected onboard the Costa Luminosa, which set sail from Fort Lauderdale for a 20-day Transatlantic cruise on 5 March.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in Miami by passenger Paul Turner on behalf of the 2,000 guests who had sailed on the Luminosa, reports the Daily Mail.

“Costa’s knowing, intentional and reckless conduct subjects Costa to the imposition of punitive damages,” reads the lawsuit.

“This voyage set sail knowing it was a virtual certainty that there would be an outbreak, similar, if not identical, to those which two Princess ships had already very publicly faced.

“This callous disregard for the safety and well-being of its passengers must be answered for.”

Prior to the cruise, customers had been told that there was no cause for concern, alleges the lawsuit, and that if they cancelled they would not be entitled to a refund.

Just three days after the ship set sail, the first passengers became ill – an elderly couple from northern Italy.

Along with another Italian national, they were taken to hospital when the Luminosa docked in Puerto Rico on 8 March, where they later died, having tested positive for Covid-19.

However, the lawsuit claims that no measures were taken on the ship after their removal, and that passengers were “dragged across the Atlantic in a ticking coronavirus time bomb”.

After the liner’s management found out that all three Italian passengers had tested positive for coronavirus, they waited a full day to inform everyone else onboard, alleges the lawsuit.

Letters were slipped under guests’ doors at midnight on 14 March but “during and after this revelation, Costa did not instruct passengers to isolate and/or quarantine to avoid the known and significant actual risk of contracting the coronavirus as passengers were allowed unfettered access to the pools, gym, and buffets the entire time, which further put passengers at an actual risk of exposure to coronavirus,” claims to the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, more people were falling ill.

It’s claimed passengers were not told to self-isolate in their rooms until the evening of 15 March.

The lawsuit also alleges that guests were kept in the dark after news channels were blocked onboard.

“During the voyage, Costa concealed information surrounding the coronavirus from passengers by blocking out news channels on stateroom TVs that had previously been available to passengers during the beginning of the cruise,” claims the suit.

“Remarkably, media outlets were reporting about the coronavirus issues on the Costa Luminosa before Costa was informing its passengers.”

Passengers finally disembarked in Marseille, France, on 19 March, where the lawsuit alleges they were packed into buses, flouting social distancing rules, before being flown home.

An estimated 75 passengers have since tested positive for coronavirus, while seven of those who were onboard the Luminosa have died.

The Independent has contacted Carnival for comment.

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