Cruise Ship Law, Maritime Law, Royal Caribbean Cruises

Were You the Victim of Discrimination on a Royal Caribbean Ship? Contact Us


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Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is made up of attorneys who are nationally recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of cruise lawyers has well over two centuries of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients. Several of our attorneys have even been selected to “Best Lawyers” ® by US News & World Report every year as far back as 2016.

Maritime Lawyers

If you have been discriminated against by Royal Caribbean while traveling as a passenger on one of their ships based on your race, gender, sexuality, disability, weight, age, or other, please contact our maritime lawyers for assistance right away.

Large cruise ship at seaWhen we hear about cruise ship cases in the media, most incidents tend to revolve around accidents or injuries. However, another common – and lesser known – problem is that of discrimination. Similar to the way people experience discrimination on land, so too do individuals become the targets of degrading slurs and hate crimes on the open seas. Particularly, on Royal Caribbean ships.

Our clients, Erik Elbaz and his late husband Bernardo, were subjected to discriminating remarks over their sexuality while on board the Royal Caribbean ship, Oasis of the Seas. Those terrible slurs resulted in several unfortunate – and preventable – incidents that ended with Bernardo losing his life in an tragic overboard accident. Unfortunately, the reality of discrimination on Royal Caribbean cruise ships isn’t something the public is privy to. Cruise lines, like Royal, go through great lengths to conceal certain onboard incidents from coming to light so as to preserve their image – and their clientele. However, it’s important for both the public to be aware of the prevalence of discriminatory acts on ships, as well as for victims to understand that they have a right to seek legal help and take legal action through the hiring of a maritime lawyer.

Below are a few of the many ways cruise passengers can experience discrimination and for which they can seek legal counsel for redress.

 Discrimination against disabilities, medical conditions, and treatment needs

Discriminating against someone who has a disability is against the law, specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Not only are U.S.-based cruise ships required to abide by ADA regulations, but foreign cruise ships operating in U.S. waters must do so as well. Failure to comply can result in a maritime law suit and compensation for the victim.

Cruise lines must provide reasonably accessible accommodations for passengers who suffer from a disabling condition. Also, disabled passengers shouldn’t be kept from enjoying the same perks that non-disabled cruise passengers would be afforded. There’s a fine line between accommodating a disabled person and completely excluding them from the same amenities, services, or activities other passengers are granted. Yet, many disabled cruisers are treated unfairly and denied their due rights.

For example, though cruise ships are built to have a certain number of accessible cabins for passengers who suffer from a disability or medical condition, there are times when disabled travelers are unable to obtain a modified stateroom because the cruise line chooses to assign these rooms to passengers who don’t actually need them out of fear of losing a sale. They believe that non-disabled passengers will be more likely to pay for onboard and offshore activities, like shore excursions, so they would rather book travelers who have a higher chance of producing revenue for the company.

Other instances in which a cruise passenger can become the victim of disability discrimination is by denying the traveler the right to bring a service dog, preventing the traveler from bring legal necessary medications on board, dying any kind of special needs request, as well as denying a passenger the right to obtain proper storage for medicines or a sharps container to dispose of injection needles.

An example of this kind of discrimination can be seen in a case from 2013. Then 22-year-old Kevin Chenais was denied embarkation on a cruise ship because of his weight (500 lbs.). Chenais was actually suffering from a hormonal imbalance that affected his weight and had been undergoing treatment for his condition.

 Sexual discrimination

Along with disability discrimination, sexual discrimination is one of the most prevailing forms of mistreatment on cruise ships. Several cruise passengers, like our clients, have been the targets of derogatory remarks and even violent attacks based on their sexual preference. Gender discrimination can also fall into this category. Female travelers are often targeted by fellow passengers or even crew members and may become the victims of sexually harassing comments, threats, or even sexual assault on a cruise ship. Additionally, there are times when cruise passengers who suffer from discrimination based on sexual preference or gender may not even be taken seriously when reporting the harassment.

Age and economic discrimination

Many cruise passengers also become subject to discrimination based on their age or economic status. There have been numerous instances in which a relatively young or “young-looking” passenger was treated with dismissive attitude by crew members who did not believe the traveler had the economic means to pay for certain activities or services. Younger passengers have often been overlooked or treated with less importance, while older, more “established-looking” travelers were given priority. Other times, younger passengers have been wrongfully accused of disruptive behavior on board, strictly because of their age. This is also an example of cruise ship discrimination, and for which a legal claim may be brought.

No matter what the reason behind the discriminatory treatment, anyone who believes they have been discriminated against on a Royal Caribbean ship should contact a maritime attorney and give us the opportunity to discuss their case with us to see if there are sufficient grounds to file a claim.

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