Just how many passengers and crew got sick or died aboard cruise ships as the coronavirus spread across the world in early 2020? The cruise industry has largely stayed silent about the COVID-19 cases aboard their ships.
No regulatory agency, government, or global health body is known to be publicly tracking the millions of people who found themselves on cruise ships in the first months of 2020. And the cruise lines kept selling cruises and mistreating their employees and customers despite coronavirus outbreaks on board ships and warnings from public health officials.
As no thorough data was made available by officials, the Miami Herald has attempted to track the COVID-19 cases that happened on board. According to the Herald's database, during or directly after a cruise, at least 2,592 people have had a positive laboratory test for COVID-19 and at least 65 people have died. That is likely not the complete picture. The COVID-19 cases found by the Herald were linked to at least 54 cruise ships. That number could also grow as more cases are reported.
Breakdown of COVID-19 Cases Linked to Cruise Lines
According to Bloomberg, Carnival Corp. executives, including the CEO, knew about the coronavirus' spread in China as early as January. But the cruise line didn't take proper safety precautions, ignoring warnings. Carnival's CEO defended the response arguing that it was similar to that of the governments that were slow to react to the coronavirus crisis.
However, the head of the CDC's cruise ship task force said that the COVID-19 infection rates onboard vessels is much higher than what can be seen on land at other public places. She added that cruise passengers are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 as they're generally more mature travelers. She also pointed out several cruise ships sailed on their trips well after the company knew it was risky to do so.
Below you can see the main cruise lines and the COVID-19 cases linked to them ordered by the number of cases:
- Carnival Corporation: 1740 cases and 53 deaths
- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.: 486 cases and 6 deaths
- Aurora Expeditions: 128 cases and 1 death
- MSC Cruises: 101 cases and 1 death
- Phoenix Reisen Cruises: 64 cases and 3 deaths
- Disney Cruise Line: 37 cases
- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings: 14 cases
- Fred Olsen Cruise Line: 13 cases
- TUI Cruises: 6 cases and 1 death
- Genting Cruise Lines: 3 cases
Timeline of COVID-19 Cases on Diamond Princess and Ruby Princess
Below is a timeline of the events involving Diamond Princess and Ruby Princess, the cruise ship with the highest number of COVID-19 cases:
January 20:The Diamond Princess cruise ship, owned and operated by Carnival Corporation departed from Yokohama Port, Japan.
January 25-31: The Diamond Princess proceeded to Hong Kong - Chan May Port, Vietnam - Cai Lan, Vietnam - Keelung, Taiwan, as part of its 16-day voyage.
February 1: The Diamond Princess proceeded to Naha, Japan. Hong Kong's government announced that COVID-19 was confirmed in an 80-year-old man, a passenger on the Diamond Princess who had left the ship on January 25.
February 3: The Diamond Princess docked off Daikoku Pier at Yokohama Port. 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew members were quarantined on the ship for 14 days.
February 4-21: 10 people on board the Diamond Princess were confirmed positive for coronavirus. 10 cases soon turned into 705 and 6 people lost their lives. It became clear that the coronavirus can spread very quickly on cruise ships. Also, the outbreak on the Diamond Princess received worldwide attention.
March 8: The Ruby Princess cruise ship, also owned and operated by Carnival Corporation, docked in Sydney, coming from a previous tour. According to the logs, 158 passengers on board were sick. However, the ship's master emailed port authority officials to report no illnesses onboard. After the ship docked in Sydney, four passengers tested positive.
March 8-9: The same day, 2,700 new passengers joined over 1,000 crew members, without any quarantining or disinfection, and the Ruby Princess set sail for another 11-day trip.
March 19-20: The Ruby Princess returned to Sydney harbor. All of its 2,700 passengers could disembark and many headed to domestic flights. After disembarking, one crew member was placed into isolation on the ship, two passengers presented to Sydney hospitals for testing, and one passenger was taken directly to a hospital. Later, all four tested positive for Covid-19.
March 21-24: The number of confirmed cases rose to 647 in total and 22 passengers died.
Do Cruise Ships Have to Keep You Safe?
Yes. Cruise ship owners and crew are responsible for protecting you while onboard their ship. The law considers cruise lines common carriers, meaning they must exercise a special duty to keep their passengers safe, similar to a train or bus company.
Claims against cruise ships include:
- Falling overboard
- Slips and falls related to wet floors, water slides, and more
- Infection from contaminated food or unsanitary conditions
- Falling objects
- Medical negligence
- Sexual or physical assault due to unsafe premises
A cruise ship is like a floating hotel in some ways. Its owners and operators have a responsibility to protect you from danger. But cruise ships, like airlines and other carriers, can be very demanding about their legal procedures. Extensive contract obligations like filing cases in a particular state - usually Florida - and requiring claimants to warn the cruise line they plan to file a lawsuit are just a few of the ways cruise ships try to limit their liability and catch you off guard.
If you are seriously injured in a cruise ship accident you need to take certain steps to preserve your legal rights. Cruise line operators and their employees are trained to act in a way that protects the cruise line from legal liability. If you are an injured passenger due to the negligence of a cruise line operator, there are several things you can do to help preserve your potential legal claim for your injuries. In the past, what to do after a cruise ship accident might not have been a topic many people concerned themselves with before embarking on a cruise. However, in light of the number of serious shipboard injuries and recent cruise ship accidents and disasters, it is an appropriate thought to have and it is a good idea to know what to do if you or a loved one are injured on a cruise. Of course, hiring a lawyer with experience pursuing legal claims against cruise lines is the ultimate course of action. But, before you contact an attorney that handles negligence claims against cruise lines, here are a few tips you follow if you or a loved one are injured.
Due to the complex nature of the law surrounding shipboard injuries, you should talk to an experienced cruise ship attorney who is experienced in dealing with the myriad variables that surround cruise ship injury claims under federal maritime law. The Florida cruise ship accident lawyer at The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary has over 20 years of experience in dealing with injured clients in cruise ship accidents and serious personal injury claims. We assist injured passengers and crew members from all over the world too. For a free consultation with a lawyer who specializes in cruise ship accident claims in Florida call us today.
Maritime employees like dockworkers, cruise ship staff, and others are also protected from injury under the Jones Act and other laws and may be able to file a negligence claim.
Recoverable Damages in a Cruise Ship Accident Claim
Cruise ship owners and operators owe passengers a duty of care. It is the responsibility of the cruise line to ensure that no unreasonable risks are present on a vessel that can cause injury to a passenger. When these responsibilities are not met, and the cruise line or operators have been determined to be negligent, we can fight for you.
If you've been injured or experienced severe health issues from your time on a cruise ship, we may be able to pursue compensation for:
- Current and future medical costs
- Current and future rehabilitation costs
- Loss of wages (including future wages)
- Inhibited earning capacity
- Wrongful death claims
- Pain and suffering
Because every case is unique, and the circumstances regarding your injuries may be different from those of another case, the value of your claim cannot be determined until a thorough examination is conducted by our knowledgeable attorneys.
If you or a family member was injured while on a cruise, our Miami injury attorneys have the experience and resources you need to fight for the compensation you deserve.