Demand Greater Oversight Of The Cruise Industry
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Negligent practices jeopardize lives. Just ask the cruise ship passengers who contracted COVID-19 while stranded at sea.
For many people, taking a cruise is the dream of a lifetime. But dreams can quickly become nightmares, especially in the age of COVID-19. Just ask the thousands of passengers trapped aboard The Diamond Princess, MS Zaandam, and other cruise ships where the virus erupted on board, quietly infecting passengers and crew.1
Sadly, these cases were often exacerbated by cruise companies, many of which proved unable (or unwilling) to protect travelers in the face of disaster. Now former passengers allege companies failed to warn them about the deadly virus circulating on board; others say staff actively hid this information. Many people charge that ships failed to properly screen and quarantine sick passengers, allowing infections flourish, and risked employees' lives by refusing to offer protective gear.2,3
This corporate malfeasance even triggered a criminal investigation in Australia, where 10 percent of all infections were traced to a single cruise ship. Some of the Ruby Princess’ 2,700 passengers were showing symptoms when the ship pulled into Sydney Harbor, but the captain failed to inform port officials of the contagion on board-- despite a legal obligation to do so. This deadly lapse allowed sick passengers to re-enter the population without proper screening, sparking a national outbreak. Later, more than 600 passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19.4
This profit-friendly approach is a unfortunate feature of the cruise industry, where companies regularly incorporate outside the U.S. to avoid taxes, government oversight, environmental regulation, and paying living wages. In this case, they also ignored basic safety proceedures in order to fill their cabins while a pandemic brewed outside.5,6
“There is a level of greed on the part of these companies,” said Ross Klein, a professor who has written multiple books about the industry. “They want to make every penny – and they make money when people are on the ships.” Tragically, some passengers paid with their lives.7
Meanwhile, thousands of crew members remain trapped onboard empty cruise ships docked in U.S. ports and waters. "The cruise industry has an ongoing obligation for the care, safety and welfare of their seafarers," the Coast Guard wrote in a statement reminding operators of their duty to help 93,000 crew members still quarantined on empty vessels, although passengers have been evacuated.4
Please sign this petition to demand greater oversight of the cruise industry. We can’t let cruise companies keep prioritizing profit over human lives.
More information about this topic:
- “Carnival Corporation Says 6,000 Passengers Are Currently Stranded at Sea on its Cruise Ships,” People, March 31, 2020
- “Passengers sue cruise lines, alleging COVID-19 negligence,” CBS News, April 17, 2020
- “Even With COVID-19 Cases, Suing Cruise Lines Is 'Extraordinarily Difficult,'” NPR, April 22, 2020
- “Coronavirus: 13 Coral Princess guests stuck aboard; Australian police raid Ruby Princess,” USA Today, April 9, 2020
- “Grand Princess cruise couple sues over 'lackadaisical' coronavirus response,” The Guardian, March 11, 2020
- “No central agency oversees, inspects cruise ships,” CBS News, February 16, 2013
- “'Stranded at sea': cruise ships around the world are adrift as ports turn them away,” The Guardian, March 27, 2020
To President Trump, Governor DeSantis, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and other U.S. leaders overseeing American cruise terminals:
We’re writing to insist on greater accountably from the cruise industry, which has spent decades prioritizing profits over the safety of passengers and crew. This profiteering was on full display during the COVID-19 pandemic, during cruise companies focused on lining their pockets over implementing basic safety measures, allowing the virus to flourish on board.
These lapses, which have been documented in multiple lawsuits, include failing to properly screen passengers for coronavirus symptoms, declining to quickly quarantine sick travelers, refusing to outfit staff with basic protective equipment and -- in many cases -- neglecting to even warn passengers that COVID-19 had erupted on board. This widespread neglect continued even as the virus grew into a global pandemic, and needlessly jeopardized the lives of passengers and crew.
When people started falling seriously ill, it became clear many ships also lacked a viable plan to get people safely to shore. Indeed, thousands of crew members are still stranded on empty cruise ships docked in U.S. ports and waters, often without pay, medical care, and the means to get back home.
We need your help insisting that cruise companies urgently adopt mandatory screening to keep passengers safe, upgrade onboard medical facilities and sanitation, develop plans to swiftly evacuate passengers in cases of emergency, and immediately offer fair compensation to employees. These changes aren’t just long overdue, they’re essential to restoring consumer confidence in the cruise industry, which has been allowed to operate with impunity for far too long.