Costa Luminosa: Coronavirus Struggles Aboard the Cruise Ship

Arnold & Itkin

When passengers boarded the Costa Luminosa, they had no idea that they were placing their health and safety into the hands of a company that was unprepared for a viral outbreak at sea. Days before dozens of crew members and passengers on the Costa Luminosa became sick, the vessel’s owner, Carnival Cruises, was making headlines related to the coronavirus. Two Carnival cruise ships, the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess, had hundreds of passengers contract the coronavirus.

The situations on both ships grew so out of control that they made international headlines. As one passenger became ill on the Costa Luminosa, others on the vessel were convinced that the company would apply lessons learned from the other ships to their situation.

“We kept saying, ‘They’ll do better. They’ll see what happened on the Diamond and the Grand, and they’ll do better for us.’ But what they did was way worse — and they lied as well,” said Kelea M. Edgar Nevis to the New York Times. She was on the Costa Luminosa with her 80-year-old husband.

How Slow Was the Costa Luminosa’s Response to a Coronavirus Outbreak?

The Costa Luminosa left Fort Lauderdale, Florida on March 5 for Venice, Italy. Just three days later, an Italian woman was evacuated from the vessel in Puerto Rico after she displayed symptoms of the coronavirus. On March 21, Puerto Rican officials confirmed that this woman had died because of complications of COVID-19. She had underlying conditions that made her especially vulnerable to complications caused by the virus.

Another passenger, a man who was on an earlier leg of the trip, died in the Cayman Islands on the same day the officials confirmed the Italian woman’s death. On the same day, passengers with symptoms of the virus got off the Costa Luminosa at the Canary Islands.

Despite the passengers’ illnesses, it took the ship’s captain a week to enact sanitary protocols. These measures included isolating all passengers in cabins, taking their temperatures daily, and having crew members wear protective equipment. As one passenger’s photograph showed, protective equipment for crew members sometimes included the tying of a cloth napkin around their face.

“It made our cruise actually living hell,” said Anna Smirnova. “People were scared, and nobody knew what to do next.”

A Bad Situation Made Worse

When the ship arrived in Marseille, France on Thursday, Canadian, French, and American passengers were allowed to leave the cruise ships. French media reported that 36 French individuals from the Costa Luminosa tested positive for COVID-19. Carnival said that French officials did not share this information with it.

Before their test results were known, Carnival loaded American passengers onto buses, sent them to the airport where they waited in the parking lot for five hours, and eventually had them board a red-eye flight bound for Atlanta, Georgia.

“It was so crowded. There were so many sick people coughing,” said Nilda Caputi, 82, who lives in Fort Lauderdale. “It was horrible. I’m old, but I’m healthy. These people were really sick and very old, in wheelchairs with a pitiful cough.” said Nilda Caputi, an 82-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident who was on the flight.

Jennifer Catron, a former medic, was on the flight and spent the entire journey taking care of the sick. Catron revealed to the New York Times that passengers had been provided received little food in the hours before the flight. During the flight, several passengers fainted and two went into respiratory distress. Some developed high fevers—a telltale sign of COVID-19—and needed to be separated as much as possible. Catron had to request other passengers to donate their peanuts so they could try to revive those who passed out because of low blood sugar.

Once the plane landed, it was diverted to an isolated area of the Atlanta airport. At the time, none of the passengers were alerted that three people had tested positive for COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) instructed all symptom-free passengers to stay home for 14 days and practice social distancing as they made way to their final destinations. Then, the passengers could freely travel across the United States and Canada.

“We got off the plane and you had to mark off a form asking, ‘Do you have a fever? Do you have a cough?’ I put that I had a fever and I went through secondary screening, because I was feeling terrible,” said Kelly Edge, another Costa Luminosa passenger. “I watched three-quarters of the people from the ship, and they did not do that. They marked themselves safe, got their temperatures taken and that was it.”

There are still 864 crewmembers and 719 passengers on the Costa Luminosa.

Is a Cruise Ship Coronavirus Lawsuit Possible?

If you were on the Costa Luminosa or another cruise ship that mishandled an outbreak of COVID-19, call our cruise ship coronavirus lawyers at (888) 346-5024. Your safety should have been the priority of the cruise company, and it should have immediately taken steps to protect your health. Arnold & Itkin’s lawyers are here to listen to your story and discuss your potential options with you. No one deserves to be exposed to a pandemic, especially due to a company’s lack of preparation. We’re ready to help find the answers you need.

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