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Carnival Ruled Negligent Over Major COVID-19 Outbreak Cruise



Source: Carnival Cruise Line
A class-action case in Australia ruled that a cruise operator was negligent in its duty of care to passengers by failing to cancel a voyage from Sydney that led to a major COVID-19 outbreak early in the pandemic.
The Ruby Princess ocean liner departed from Sydney on March 8, 2020, with 2,671 passengers on board for a 13-day cruise to New Zealand but returned in 11 days as Australia’s borders were closing. The virus spread to 663 passengers, resulting in 28 deaths.
According to the Associated Press, Susan Karpik was the lead plaintiff in the case against British-American cruise operator Carnival and its subsidiary Princess Cruises, the ship’s owner. Federal Court Justice Angus Stewart found that Carnival had breached Australian consumer law by allowing the cruise to depart during the early months of the pandemic. The judge said Carnival had a duty to take reasonable care of the health and safety of its passengers concerning COVID-19.
“I have found that before the embarkation of passengers on the Ruby Princess for the cruise in question, 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,” Judge Stewart said in a statement reported by the AP.
“To the respondents’ knowledge, to proceed with the cruise carried significant risk of a coronavirus outbreak with possible disastrous consequences, yet they proceeded regardless,” Stewart said, adding Carnival had already experienced outbreaks on its cruises in the previous month aboard the Grand Princess off California and the Diamond Princess off Japan.