Class Action: Royal Caribbean Endangered Passengers During Harvey

By Anne Bucher, Top Class Actions

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. failed to cancel a cruise scheduled to depart during Hurricane Harvey from the Port of Galveston until the scheduled departure date, putting passengers in danger and causing them financial harm, a class action lawsuit alleges.

“This Class Action lawsuit involves [Royal Caribbean’s] knowing and intentional decision to effectively force individuals who had purchased a cruise aboard the Liberty of the Seas leaving August 27, 2017 to fly to Texas while it was in a state of emergency due to Hurricane Harvey, because [Royal Caribbean] would not cancel or modify its planned cruise,” plaintiff Nikki McIntosh alleges in the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit.

Royal Caribbean assured the scheduled passengers that safety was the primary concern and the cruise would sail as scheduled, McIntosh says. At the same time, the cruise line repeatedly advised passengers that they would lose the entire cost of the purchased cruise if they cancelled, the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit alleges.

Hundreds of passengers subsequently endured days of “danger, terror, and trauma” as they traveled into the path of Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 hurricane, according to the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit. Many of these consumers were far from their homes and families.

McIntosh claims that this danger and hardship could have been avoided if Royal Caribbean had simply given scheduled passengers the option of staying at home and rescheduling the cruise. According to the class action lawsuit, Royal Caribbean put profits over safety because cruise lines “make no money when passengers don’t sail.”

According to the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit, Hurricane Harvey strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane by Friday, Aug. 25, and at noon that day, the Port of Galveston closed to all vessels. Many of residents of Texas’ coastal cities also began evacuating as Harvey approached.

Royal Caribbean, however, notified its scheduled passengers that Liberty of the Seas would keep its original schedule and depart Galveston on Sunday, Aug. 27. The cruise company sent this notification despite the fact Carnival Cruise lines had already rerouted two other cruise ships that were scheduled to arrive in Galveston on Saturday, Aug. 26. At this point, the National Hurricane Center had advised that the entire coast of Texas was in the cone of danger for Hurricane Harvey.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, Royal Caribbean reportedly emailed passengers to inform them that boarding for the cruise would now take place on Monday instead of Sunday.

“By this time, catastrophic flooding had already begun,” the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit says.

The Port of Galveston remained closed on Sunday, Aug. 27, and Royal Caribbean sent an email notifying passengers they would receive a partial future cruise credit. It was not until around 3 p.m. on Sunday that Royal Caribbean cancelled the cruise and offered a full refund to customers.

“Simply put, had the cruise been cancelled a day or two earlier, just like Carnival did, then these passengers would not have been trapped in the path of Hurricane Harvey and subjected to 5-6 days of terror, hardship and inconvenience in a place foreign to them,” McIntosh says in the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit.

McIntosh filed the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit on behalf of herself and a proposed Class of Liberty of the Sea passengers who traveled to the Galveston area during Hurricane Harvey.

McIntosh is represented by Michael A. Winkleman and Marc E. Weiner of Lipcon Margulies Alsina & Winkleman PA.

The Royal Caribbean Harvey Cruise Class Action Lawsuit is McIntosh v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Case No. 1:17-cv-23575, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.