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Lawsuit flows from cruise and Hurricane Harvey

October 9, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A Canadian woman has launched a class-action lawsuit against Royal Caribbean (RCCL) for allegedly urging passengers booked on a cruise to proceed to Houston, Texas as Hurricane Harvey was set to strike – or risk losing any chance of a refund on their tickets.

The lawsuit relates to a cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas scheduled to depart the port of Galveston, Texas, on 27 August 2017 and visit Cozumel, Mexico. Houston is the nearest major airport to Galveston.

The lawsuit states that the “Plaintiff is a resident of Canada and Defendant RCCL is a corporation incorporated under the laws of Liberia having its principal place of business in Florida”.

According to an outline of the lawsuit by CBS in the US,  the plaintiff alleges that Royal Caribbean made it appear that the cruise would depart as scheduled, and then that the cruise would be delayed rather than cancelled. The cruise was cancelled on 27 August 2017 and Royal Caribbean emailed passengers that day to advise them.

Royal Caribbean added in its email: “Your cruise fare and fees will be 100% refunded to the original form of payment. It may take 4-5 business days to reflect on your account. We are looking forward to welcoming you back, so we are offering a 25% future cruise credit, based on your cruise fare, if you choose to book another cruise in the next 30 days. Please stay safe.”

The 20-page lawsuit (brought by Nikki McIntosh of Canada and filed last week in Florida) states: “Simply put, had the cruise been cancelled a day or two earlier, just like Carnival did, then these passengers would not have been trapped [in Houston] in the path of Hurricane Harvey and subjected to 5 to 6 days of terror, hardship and inconvenience in a place foreign to them.”

The lawsuit alleges: “As a result of the actions of RCCL, hundreds, if not thousands, of passengers travelled to Texas for a scheduled departure on August 27, 2017 even though a catastrophic weather event had already made multiple landfalls in Texas. These passengers were subjected to 5-6 days of being trapped in a state of emergency, often without power, limited food and water, and at all times material at risk of death. Many families travelled to South Texas with small children. As a result of RCCL’s gross negligence, toddlers were forced to wade through flood waters in search of food.”

The suit accuses Royal Caribbean of being motivated by profit “because, simply put, cruise lines like RCCL make no money when passengers don’t sail”.

The lawsuit seeks actual damages and punitive damages.

Royal Caribbean declined to comment, CBS reported.  The Orlando Sentinel added that a Royal Caribbean spokesperson explained that the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Written by Peter Needham

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