Carnival Cruise Line was found to have been negligent by an Australian judge in a class action lawsuit for embarking on a voyage that spread Covid-19 to over 600 passengers. The lawsuit included more than 1,000 people, per Reuters.
Per the lawsuit, the Ruby Princess ocean liner, owned by Carnival and its subsidiary Princess Cruises, set sail from Sydney, Australia to New Zealand on March 8, 2020, with 2,671 passengers aboard, despite growing health risks in the early days of the pandemic, per ABC News.
On the voyage, 663 passengers contracted the coronavirus and 28 died. What was supposed to be a 13-day cruise ended up returning two days earlier than anticipated due to Australia’s closing borders.
Australian Federal Court Justice Angus Stewart ruled that Carnival failed to take proper safety precautions and protect passengers from the risks of Covid.
Before setting sail, Carnival had experienced Covid outbreaks on the Grand Princess off California and the Diamond Princess off Japan in February, according to the judge. Additionally, just one day after departing from Sydney, on March 9, Carnival offered free cancellations for all cruises worldwide with no explanation to customers before suspending all cruises on March 13.
“The respondents knew or ought to have known about the heightened risk of coronavirus infection on the vessel and its potentially lethal consequences and that their procedures for screening passengers and crew members for the virus were unlikely to screen out all infectious individuals,” Stewart said, according to the outlet.
“To the respondents’ knowledge, to proceed with the cruise carried significant risk of a coronavirus outbreak with possible disastrous consequences, yet they proceeded regardless,” he added.
The lead plaintiff in the class action lawsuit, Susan Karpik, sued Carnival for over AU$360,000 Australian dollars ($230,000). She was awarded AU$4,423.48 ($2,823.28) for her medical expenses with the judge noting that Carnival had refunded all passengers’ fares. Those who had more severe health issues as a result of the cruise could be entitled to more financial compensation. It is unknown when the total compensation will be announced.
Karpik told reporters she was “pleased” with the outcome.
Following the ruling, Carnival reps said they were considering the details of the judgment in a statement obtained by AP News.
“The pandemic was a difficult time in Australia’s history, and we understand how heartbreaking it was for those affected,” Carnival stated.