The Ruby Princess saga has once again reared its ugly head, with Carnival claiming passengers “share” responsibility for the debacle.
Shine Lawyers, who filed a class action on behalf of those onboard the Ruby Princess when it left Sydney’s Circular Quay on 8 March 2020, released a defence filed on behalf of the cruise line on 12 April 2020.
The class action alleges that passengers were not informed of 158 cases of people with coronavirus-like symptoms logged on the previous voyage, and they were also not informed of the potential risks they faced of coronavirus on the cruise.
More than 700 passengers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since leaving the ship, and 28 deaths have been linked to the cruise.
According to the defence, the risk that passengers might contract a contagious disease, like COVID-19, from a fellow passenger was “obvious” to a reasonable person.
“The applicant and the passengers owed a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety, and to not act in a way which put themselves at risk,” the document said.
“The standard of care required of the applicant and the passengers was that of a reasonable person in their position, knowing what that person ought to have known at the time.”
The defence denies that the cruise line breached its duty of care by failing to enforce physical distancing, and instead said that passengers put their safety at risk by participating in “activities on the ship in close proximity to other people”.
It also said passengers put their safety at risk by eating “self-service food” and failing to wear masks in public spaces.
Seventy-one-year-old Jennifer Philips, who claims she and her husband caught COVID-19 on board the ship, told 9 News Carnival’s defence was “poppycock” and that there was “not an inkling of COVID” when they boarded the 11-day cruise.
“If we had known then we wouldn’t have taken the trip,” she said, adding that her breathing had gone “kaput” and suffered from low energy since her experience on the ship.
A spokesman for Carnival Australia told Travel Weekly that any suggestion of blaming passengers for what happened is a “distortion” of the company’s response to the class action and the “environment that prevailed in Australia in relation to Covid-19 at the time”.
The class action is set to go to mediation on 26 August and has a trial scheduled for March 2022, in case the parties can not resolve the case.