Passengers sue over Grand Princess Covid-19 outbreak

The first legal action against a major cruise line has begun with a Florida couple suing the owner of cruise ship Grand Princess (IMO 9104005) for more than $1m, claiming that the company put profits over safety, and that it did not have proper screening protocols in place.

Ronald and Eva Weissberger of Broward County, Florida are suing Princess Cruise Lines Ltd, a unit of Carnival Corp, alleging the company caused them emotional distress and trauma as they fear they will develop Covid-19. The Weissbergers said that Princess Cruise lacked a proper screening protocol to minimize the risk of passengers’ exposure.

The action was filed in US District Court in Los Angeles.

Grand Princess docked in Oakland, California, on Monday enabling her 2,400 passengers to disembark, albeit slowly, and be taken to quarantine or medical sites. A limited batch of tests last week found that 21 people, 19 crew and two passengers, were infected with Covid-19.

The ship had been linked to 12 coronavirus cases from a 10-day voyage to Mexico in the middle of February, concluding February 21st.

The Weissbergers boarded the ship on February 21st when the Grand Princess departed from San Francisco, They were still passengers on the cruise ship when the lawsuit was filed, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit claims that passengers were only asked to “fill out a piece of paper confirming they were not sick” without being further questioned or screened prior to boarding.

Last week the Grand Princess was denied entry to San Francisco Bay as she sailed back from Hawaii. She was then put into a holding pattern some 50 miles off the coast while various parties in the US tried to decide what to do.

The lawsuit said that the cruise operator should have developed methods for protecting passengers due to its experience with another of its cruise liners, particularly the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined in Japan from early February. On that vessel about 700 became infected and seven passengers have died.

The 2,400 passengers who began disembarking on Monday in the main had been confined to their staterooms since Thursday March 5th. Except for those with acute illness, the 1,100 crew members are to remain aboard the Grand Princess, which will depart Oakland as soon as possible, to be quarantined for two weeks in an as yet undisclosed location outside San Francisco Bay, officials said.

Princess Cruises, owner-operator of the ship, announced that passengers would receive a full refund for the price of the cruise, including air travel, hotel, ground transportation and pre-paid shore excursions.

The company also offered patrons credit for a future cruise equal to the fare paid for the voyage.

1998-built, Bermuda-flagged, 107,517gt Grand Princess is owned by Fairline Shipping International Corp care of manager Princess Cruise Lines Ltd of Valencia, California, USA. It is entered with Gard on behalf of Princess Cruise Lines. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Americas Division) on behalf of Princess Cruise Lines Ltd.  It is entered with UK Club (Area Group Americas G7) on behalf of Carnival Corp.

For H&M it is entered with Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group on behalf of Carnival Corp.