Cruise

Families to sue Royal Caribbean over White Island volcano tragedy

Royal Caribbean will face a lawsuit from the families of tourists killed in the White Island volcano eruption for alleged negligence.

A Four Corners investigation by the ABC will tonight reveal uncovered details of the “chaos” and “disorganisation” of Royal Caribbean in the hours that followed the eruption of White Island (known locally as Whakaari), which killed 21 people and left many others badly injured.

As many as 19 of the 21 people who died on the island arrived from the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship, after booking a tour of the island with its operator, Royal Caribbean.

According to ABC News, it was only thanks to the efforts of nearby tourists and local pilots that survivors were able to get off the island alive.

Law firm Stacks Goudkamp has been hired by passengers and family members to pursue legal action in Australia against Royal Caribbean for alleged negligence, breach of contract, and breach of Australian consumer law.

“It was completely preventable. It shouldn’t have happened,” lawyer Rita Yousef told ABC News.

The tourists had booked and paid for their trip to White Island through Royal Caribbean.

“They were told in the brochure that all they needed to do if they were attending this tour was to wear enclosed shoes,” Yousef said.

Additionally, the brochure promised visitors would, “Get close to the drama”.

Royal Caribbean has since ceased all tours visiting active volcanoes.

In the weeks before the eruption on 9 December, New Zealand’s volcano monitoring service, GNS Science, had raised the alert level for White Island from one to two – the highest level outside of erupting.

Yousef said Royal Caribbean told the passengers on the Ovation of the Seas “absolutely nothing” about the possibility or the risks of an eruption.

“At the very least, Royal Caribbean, which held itself out to be responsible for this tour, should have been monitoring this, and communicating with participants as to the risk, and giving them the choice, an informed choice to decide not to go because of this risk,” she told ABC News.

“But what appears [to have] happened is that nobody [at Royal Caribbean] was monitoring or taking this level seriously.”

Previously, passengers onboard Ovation of the Seas had expressed their disapproval with the way Royal Caribbean handled the tragic event, with one father slamming the line’s lack of information and mental health support.

Four Corners understands one group of passengers learned what happened by turning on the TV and seeing news reports of the eruption.

According to Yousef, the lawsuit now seeks to provide closure and justice for families left behind by the tragedy, which is currently under an investigation by the New Zealand government expected to take more than a year.

Travel Weekly has contacted Royal Caribbean for comment.

However, in a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said since the eruption the company has “focused on providing care and support to passengers, their families and crew that were impacted by this event”.

“The details of the tour are the subject of two separate investigations in New Zealand which we will be fully cooperating with and we are unable to provide further details at this time,” the spokesperson told ABC News.

The Four Corners investigation will air tonight at 8:30pm on ABC TV and on the program’s Facebook page.

Featured image: White Island (Whakaari) New Zealand, 11 December 2019 (Planet/Twitter)



SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Cruise

Tourists stranded as Europe’s rivers continue to drop

Water levels across Europe’s rivers continue to plague cruise operators with reports of marooned boats on the Doubs River.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Midweek Interview

Midweek catch-up with Italian hotelier Gai Quartucci

This week, we sat down with Gai Quartucci, global sales and marketing director for part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the world group.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Malaysia Airlines launches free trip incentive for agents

This incentive is like a buy one, get one free, except instead of buying something, you’ve got to sell airfares… which is likely your job anyway so win-win.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Ennismore to bring four new lifestyle hotels to NZ

Accor’s quirky stepchild is spreading its wings across the Pacific with four new signings in New Zealand.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Missed the Visit USA Expos? Fear not, we’ve got your biggest questions covered.

by sponsored by Visit USA Australia

No more FOMO! These hot tips will get you in top-tip shape to visit the USA.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Jetstar launches Sunny Coast sale with fares cheaper than a tank of petrol

With prices this low, Jetstar will have to steal Bunnings’ famous tagline. Hopefully they’ll start hosting sausage sizzles as well.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Hotel Review: La Sultana is an oasis among the chaos of Marrakech

by Nancy Hromin

A peaceful hideaway right in the centre of the Medina’s hustle and bustle, La Sultana is an oasis among the chaos of Marrakech – a chaos we absolutely loved.

Share

CommentComments

News

Aussie travel start-up Ok Away partners with Air Doctor

While it is a cool name, Ok Away also sounds like a good way to end a sentence with someone you wish would leave you alone.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

“It’s a shocking insult”: Qantas slammed for asking execs to work as baggage handlers

The bags on your next flight may be handled by Alan Joyce, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your confidence in his ability to fling around 30 kg bags.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Travellers warned over bomb threats against Moldova’s international airport

The government’s travel alert website is advising Aussies to reconsider their need to travel to Moldova, which, given the bomb threats, is probably sound advice.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Intrepid launches citizen science programs in Antarctica

Believe it or not, there is more than one program about understanding phytoplankton (which are a lot more important than you would think)!

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

IHG celebrates 60 years with big surprises + Tim Tam cake

The brand is celebrating its Diamond anniversary with a series of events and surprises for guests, but honestly, they had us at “Tim Tam”.

Share

CommentComments