Carnival Cruise Lines has been hit with two lawsuits over conditions onboard the stricken Carnival Triumph, which limped into port late on Thursday evening.
The first lawsuit was filed less than 24 hours after the cruise ship docked in Mobile, Alabama, after four days without power following a fire in its engine, resulting in overflowing toilets that contributed to overpowering odours on board.
Cassie Terry, 25, of Brazoria County, Texas, called the disabled Triumph cruise ship "a floating hell", ABCNews.com reported, citing human waste that flooded across the vessel’s floors and halls, dripping down the walls.
A second woman, Lisa Williams, 42, from Houston, filed another lawsuit after claiming she suffered severe dehydration and bruising from aggressive behaviour while queuing up for food.
Williams’ lawsuit alleges that Carnival failed to "inspect for and to observe and resolve the hazard present within the vessel that ultimately affected all passengers aboard”, and that she had been exposed to “extremely toxic and debilitating conditions”.
However, some have voiced doubts about how successful any lawsuit against a cruise line will be.
Ross Klein, an author and cruise expert who runs a cruise passenger website, told the Sun Sentinel newspaper that there are limits on mental anguish claims, and that cruise lines prohibit passengers from suing over emotional stress, and can only sue over real physical injuries.
"The actual cases that can go forward are somewhat limited," said Klein. "It's going to come down to how creative the lawyers are going to be."
There are also rules on where someone can file a suit, with lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian specifing that all cases must be filed in Miami federal court, so passengers must travel to the city for hearings.
A spokesman for Carnival Cruise Lines told Travel Weekly that it was not able to comment on pending litigation.
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