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Maritime Law--Lawsuits Filed Over RCCL's "Storm Cruise"


Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd ("RCCL") faces lawsuits by passengers accusing the company of negligently endangering their lives by letting Anthem of the Seas sail into a February 7, 2016 storm.  One class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami specifically states that RCCL should be required to pay punitive damages to passengers on its ship for "knowingly sailing directly into" a strong winter storm with 120-mph winds. It is also alleged that people aboard the ship were "subjected to hours of sheer terror as the gigantic cruise ship was battered by hurricane-force winds and more than 30-foot waves."

The vessel reportedly encountered 100 mph winds and 30-foot waves, and RCCL said the storm was more severe than expected. RCCL later turned the ship around, and it returned to New Jersey on February 10. Anthem of the Seas’ port azipod reportedly burnt through “all four clutches” during the storm. RCCL reported four minor injuries among more than 6,000 people on board.
 
 
Aft photograph of Anthem of the Seas

The scheduled seven-day cruise from New Jersey to the Bahamas and back ended early after the ship ran into the storm. Passengers reported the captain alerted them as they were leaving port on February 6 that a weather system was building but he would try to outrun it.  It is reported by several news sources including the Daily Business Review state that the passengers reported the ship tilted up to 45 degrees, and Coast Guard inspectors found damage to the ship's propulsion system.

RCCL has not commented on the pending litigation. The company reportedly apologized when the cruise ended and offered passengers a full refund plus a certificate for half-off a future cruise. In addition, RCCL has reported that they are strengthening their storm avoidance policy and has "added resources" at its Miami headquarters to provide additional guidance to their captains.
 
Perhaps as a result of these recent changes at RCCL, it recently issued a statement saying it was cancelling another Anthem of the Seas cruise due to a storm building up on the U.S. east coast.
 
If you are interested in contacting me, you may do so by writing to me at blog@miamimaritimelaw.co.

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