One dream holiday turned into a nightmare after an American woman not only had to face the trauma of losing her husband whilst they were at sea but later found out that due to technical issues with the ship’s morgue, her husband had been left to decompose in one of the vessel’s beverage coolers…
It’s long been understood that despite the unrivalled array of amenities available and pretty impressive engineering on display aboard some of the world’s largest and most luxurious cruise ships, there’s another, darker side to this fascinating corner of the travel industry.
Unfortunately, one Florida woman found this out the hard way when tragedy struck during an eight-day Caribbean cruise that she, Marilyn Jones, and her husband Robert Jones, recently took with Celebrity Cruises aboard one of the jewels of their fleet, the Celebrity Equinox.
After only a few days aboard, Robert suddenly passed away. After a series of unfortunate events that followed, Ms Jones and her family are now seeking a jury trial and at least $1 million USD (~$1.5 million AUD) in damages for her trauma.
According to the lawsuit, Ms Jones was presented with two options by Celebrity Cruises upon her husband’s death: to disembark with her husband’s body in San Juan, Puerto Rico, or to have it stored in the ship’s morgue until it returned to Florida six days later.
WATCH: The reality behind the social media shine of luxury cruises.
Ms Jones chose to remain on board, believing that the Equinox was equipped to safely transport her husband’s body back to Fort Lauderdale.
However, in a gruesome turn of events, when a funeral home worker and a sheriff’s deputy arrived to retrieve Mr Jones’s body in Fort Lauderdale, they discovered that it had been moved from the ship’s morgue… To a drinks cooler on a different floor.
Apparently, the morgue – which is a common fixture on cruise ships, given the large numbers of passengers aboard and the statistical likelihood that somebody will eventually pass away at sea – was out of order, with Ms Jones claiming that it had not been properly maintained.
As a result of the body being moved to the cooler, it was stored at an insufficient temperature and had begun to decompose, preventing Mr Jones’ family from having an open casket at his wake and funeral.
If Ms Jones had known the ship did not have a working morgue, she would have chosen to take her husband’s body off the ship in Puerto Rico. According to the lawsuit, Celebrity Cruises’ handling of the matter had been “reckless and careless.”
The impact of this tragedy on Ms Jones and her family cannot be overstated. Their lawyer, Thomas Carey, has said that they are “devastated” by the incident and will struggle to heal.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time a cruise line has faced legal action over a tragedy on board. In 2019, the family of an 18-month-old girl who fell to her death from a cruise ship window sued Royal Caribbean, claiming negligence on the part of the cruise line. In 2012, the families of victims of the Costa Concordia disaster also filed lawsuits against the ship’s owner, Carnival Corporation.
The tragedy highlights the responsibility that cruise lines have to ensure the safety and well-being of their passengers and crew. Accidents can happen, but it is crucial that companies take all necessary precautions to handle them appropriately when they do.
The lawsuit has been filed at federal court and is expected to be ruled upon soon. Until then, we’ll leave this one on ice. Too soon?