A former cruise ship passenger has filed suit against Costa Cruise Lines, alleging that the cruise company endangered lives by covering up a case of coronavirus onboard one of its vessels. The lawsuit accuses the cruise line of fostering conditions on board the Costa Luminosa that resulted in 36 passengers to contract COVID-19 on a transatlantic voyage.
A passenger named Paul Turner filed the lawsuit in Florida on April 7, arguing that the cruise company “subjected over 2,000 passengers to the highly contagious coronavirus, and exposing passengers to actual risk of immediate physical injury and death.”
The suit alleges Costa Cruise Lines knowingly allowed new passengers to board the ship after a passenger on a previous cruise was evacuated due to coronavirus symptoms, concealed that incident from guests, and delayed issuing the order for passengers to isolate in their staterooms after another passenger fell ill with COVID-19. According to Reuters, French authorities confirmed that 36 passengers onboard had contracted the disease.
Costa Cruise Lines and its parent company, Carnival Corp., did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
The lawsuit argues that Carnival should have been aware of the dangers of the coronavirus due to outbreaks on the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess. Those ships both belong to Princess Cruises’ fleet, which is also owned by Carnival.
Turner alleges in his suit that Costa Cruise Lines put lives at risk by taking on a new group of passengers in Florida just a few days after a guest experiencing coronavirus symptoms had been medically evacuated from its vessel.
According to the suit, the Costa Luminosa departed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on February 24. Four days later, the suit alleges, a 68-year-old Italian passenger was “evacuated” from the vessel in the Cayman Islands “following symptoms of the coronavirus and a stroke.” The guest, who has since died, tested positive for COVID-19.
The lawsuit includes a March 4 email from Costa Cruise Lines to prospective guests, alerting them of the cruise line’s intent to “make the most appropriate decisions and put in place the most adequate measures to be sure that the highest level of safety for its guests and crew members are met.” According to the lawsuit, the cruise company made assurances to prospective guests that the Costa Luminosa “was not affected by the coronavirus, was safe, and that there was no need for concern.” Turner alleges that passengers were also informed that their cancellations “would not be reimbursed.”
The suit alleges that Costa Cruise Lines returned to Fort Lauderdale on March 5, to pick up a new batch of passengers – including Turner – “without adequately sanitizing the Costa Luminosa.” The suit alleges that the company did not deny passengers or crew members “who showed symptoms of the coronavirus” or anyone who had recently been to China, Japan, Italy, or South Korea.
“During the boarding process on March 5, 2020, Costa had non-medical professionals determine whether prospective passengers were medically fit to board based on a prospective passenger’s answers to whether they were sick and/or experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus,” the lawsuit alleges.
In addition, Costa instructed passengers that they would not be reimbursed if they canceled their March 5, 2020 voyage on the Costa Luminosa, according to the lawsuit. Puerto Rico was scheduled to be the first port-of-call on March 8, 2020, before the Costa Luminosa would sail across the Atlantic Ocean for seven days.
After a coronavirus outbreak occurred on the Costa Luminosa, Turner’s suit alleges that the ship was “denied entry to multiple different ports-of-call by the government of the respective countries.” When the ship docked in Puerto Rico, its first port of call, on March 8, an elderly couple from Northern Italian was hospitalized due to coronavirus symptoms. They later tested positive for the disease.
From there, the suit alleges that guests were then “dragged across the Atlantic in a ticking coronavirus time bomb.” Antigua and Barbuda denied the ship entry, trapping passengers on the ship. The Costa Luminosa next reached the Canary Islands, where three more passengers with coronavirus symptoms were hospitalized.
On March 15, Turner alleges “crew members of the Costa Luminosa began wearing napkins over their mouths and using napkins to grab plates to deliver food into passenger’s staterooms.”
That night, the ship’s captain told guests to remain in isolation in their staterooms. Marseille, France, allowed the ship’s passengers to disembark on March 19. The suit alleges that passengers were neither given adequate instructions for leaving nor provided with personal protective equipment.
The lawsuit against Costa Cruise Lines comes about during a time of chaos for the cruise industry. Just recently, ships from the company’s sister line Holland America were allowed to disembark in Florida after a coronavirus outbreak sickened hundreds of passengers and crew members.
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