It’s still not smooth sailing for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. A passenger on the cruise company’s 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, passenger Bruce Simpson alleges that Royal Caribbean was aware of the forecasted storm off the Atlantic coast that caused the line’s mega 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.
Nevertheless, the cruise line chose to “send the Anthem of the Seas directly into the storm,” the suit alleges, placing Simpson and the passengers of the ship in “grave danger.” He is asking Royal Caribbean for compensatory and punitive damages.
“They took a calculated risk when they sent their passengers into the storm, and we don’t think the passengers should be the ones that pay for Royal Caribbean’s lack of judgement,” attorney Jason Itkin said in a statment.
Simpson 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.
The two alleged that they stayed in the cabin for hours clutching onto furniture, while the ship rocked fiercely at times tipping to a 45-degree angle, according to the lawsuit.
Eventually, Simpson said he got up to use the restroom just as the ship lurched violently, allegedly causing him to be thrown 18 feet in his cabin and smash head-first into the door of the room, rendering him unconscious. Simpson said he sustained injuries to his head, neck, wrist and torso.
When they called the ship’s 911 number, Simpson alleged that the medical team said they were attending other injured passengers and because he was breathing and not bleeding, instructed him to wait until the storm calmed down to seek help.
Previously, Royal Caribbean said four passengers sustained minor injuries from the storm. But Simpson alleged in the lawsuit that the medical office was crowded the next afternoon with passengers in wheelchairs or their arms in slings.
Despite knowing about the serious storm, Royal Caribbean the Anthem of the Seas out into the Atlantic Ocean, placing plaintiff, and the rest of the passengers and crew in grave danger.
Lawsuit filed by Bruce Simpson against Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
To avoid a second storm brewing off the coast of Jacksonville, the ship reversed course and returned to port in New Jersey on Feb. 10. Posts to social media show the powerful waves as seen from windows in the lower cabins and parts of the ship’s upper decks damaged from the storm.
As of Wednesday night, Royal Caribbean's lawyers had not reviewed the suit and could not comment, spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said. 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.