In February 2013, 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crewmembers aboard a Carnival Triumph cruise returned to the United States. Unfortunately, they were five days late. After an engine fire exhausted power on the ship for three days, thousands of passengers endured the hardships of broken toilets, no lights and limited food. Voyagers were ultimately towed to the mainland — approximately 500 miles from the ship’s main port.
Most travelers expected a relaxing vacation in the sun with their families. Never did they believe that their “paradise” would result in suffering at sea. Many were forced to sleep on deck, avoid sewage-flooded hallways and endure long lines for limited amounts of sustenance.
As expected, the event has led to a plethora of lawsuits against Carnival Cruise Lines. In one case, a Texas woman who was aboard the ship claims she suffered "permanent bodily injury, pain and suffering, mental anguish and a loss of capacity to enjoy life." The traveler asserts that she became dehydrated on the ship and spent a weekend in and out of urgent care centers. She also notes that the chaos left her battered and bruised. In her case, she seeks $75,000 in damages from the Miami-based company.
Typically, the terms and conditions of commercial cruises strip away a passenger’s rights. The company’s liability is released or waived in a vacationer’s acceptance of the voyage ticket. For this reason, legal experts note that some plaintiffs may not prevail on emotional distress and mental suffering charges. Nevertheless, if passengers experienced physical injury, this could be a solid avenue of recovery.
Also, maritime law experts note that passengers could win if they can show that the cruise line was negligent in letting the ship sail despite previous engine and propulsion issues, which date back to January 2013.
Ultimately, Carnival may opt to settle the Triumph lawsuits. If the company fails to get the lawsuits dismissed on its liability restrictions or other grounds, maritime experts note that a resolution is likely.
At this point, Carnival has reimbursed passengers for the cruise, distributed credit for another journey and awarded $500. However, a judge will have to decide whether the travelers are entitled to greater recovery.
If you have been injured or harmed aboard a cruise line, retain the assistance of a qualified personal injury law attorney. A lawyer can help you assert your rights. Your idea of paradise should not be a nightmare at sea.