A passenger on the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ill-fated Anthem of the Seas voyage earlier this month is suing the Miami-based cruise line for negligence.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami last week, the passenger alleges that Royal Caribbean was aware of the forecasted storm off the Atlantic coast that caused the line’s ship, Anthem of the Seas, to face hurricane-force winds and 30-foot waves as passengers waited in their cabins for hours for the storm to pass.
The lawsuit alleges that the cruise line chose to “send the Anthem of the Seas directly into the storm,” placing the man and the other passengers of the ship in “grave danger.” He is asking Royal Caribbean for compensatory and punitive damages.
The man said that he and his husband were told to stay in their cabins as the storm worsened in the afternoon of Feb. 7, the first full day of cruising after the 4,500-passenger, 1,500-crew ship left its port in Cape Liberty, New Jersey.
According to the suit, the pair stayed in the cabin for hours clinging onto furniture, while the ship rocked fiercely at times tipping to a 45-degree angle.
The man said he got up to use the restroom just as the ship lurched violently, causing him to be thrown 18 feet in his cabin and smash head-first into the door of the room, knocking him unconscious. The man said he sustained injuries to his head, neck, wrist and torso.
When they called the ship’s 911 number, the medical team said they were attending other injured passengers and because the man was breathing and not bleeding, instructed him to wait until the storm calmed down to seek help.
To avoid a second storm off the coast of Jacksonville, the ship reversed course and returned to port in New Jersey on Feb. 10.
The cruise line said in a statement earlier this month that the severity of the storm “far exceeded forecasts,” causing “superficial damage” to the ship.
The cruise company said it is working to improve its storm avoidance policy and adding resources to its Miami headquarters by PortMiami to better provide guidance to ship captains.
Maritime law applies to the “high seas,” which begin 24 miles from land. Maritime law is complex and can be hard to understand, especially for injury victims that are unfamiliar with cruise ship legal issues. However, in most cases, an accident, assault or other incident that leads to a cruise ship passenger being injured is governed by maritime law.