Schedule a Consultation: (973) 274-5200

Cruise Ship Industry Role in Spread of COVID-19

Amidst the COVID pandemic, researchers have begun looking into how the spread of the virus had become so prolific as quickly as it did. The truth was it was a variety of factors, the prolific amount of travel is one of the largest factors. Travel and trade have become extremely easy and affordable which in turn has allowed viruses, like COVID-19, to spread globally more rapidly than in decades prior. Travel, whether for business or pleasure, allowed the disease to spread from country to country at a much higher rate than in the previous pandemics. 


While it was clear that prolific travel would allow the coronavirus to spread widely, many within the travel industry opted not to listen to warnings that could have ultimately decreased the impact the disease had. Even with substantial evidence suggesting otherwise, some industries, including the Cruise industry, continued to ignore the safety suggestions for their passengers and the ports they would visit and put financial agendas ahead of the communities which they serve. 


Cruise Ships average 3,000 passengers and some can house up to 6,000 if they reach maximum capacity according to Using conservative numbers that means that each voyage had about 3,000 people on board the vessel traveling from one port to another. This number is increased exponentially when you factor in the numbers of ships that comprise each company's fleet globally. That means for the month of March each ship was ferrying thousands of people in close proximity to each other which is a prime environment to aid the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, at each port the passengers debarked the vessels, the population of the port city was exposed to whatever germs and bacteria were spread onboard the ship. 


According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has so far determined that 17 of the vessels, which were on international voyages and had entered at least one U.S. port, carried people who tested positive for Covid-19 within two weeks of disembarking.”


Utilizing those statistics alone, and assuming that those 17 vessels only took one voyage within that time frame, that means upwards of 51,000 passengers alone were possibly exposed. Being that the numbers used were conservative, and they do not factor in the inhabitants of the port towns, it is very likely that the true number of people exposed would be considerably higher. 


Cruise Ships average 3,000 passengers and some can house up to 6,000 if they reach maximum capacity

Cruise Ships average 3,000 passengers and some can house up to 6,000 if they reach maximum capacity

Experiences onboard ships that were infected - What about those onboard the vessels?

During some of the voyages, ports started to deny debarkations and passengers would be trapped aboard the vessel with no way to escape. The Wall Street Journal goes on to say, “the Braemar, a ship owned by British-based Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines, was denied port access by the Dominican Republic for what the company called “an overreaction” to a small number of passengers with influenza-like symptoms… Nine days later, the company said two passengers had been diagnosed with Covid-19 after returning home.”


With ports denying passengers the ability to debark the ships it left passengers trapped onboard for the main part of their stay. Yet, the companies who owned the ships continued to allow new passengers to board and start their journey knowing there was a possibility people could get sick or trapped on the ship. 


Onboard many of the ships there was an alarming lack of communication. “Shortly before returning to Sydney on March 19, ship officers told New South Wales health authorities that 104 passengers and crew had acute respiratory infections, including 36 who visited the ship’s clinic with influenza-like illnesses. Ship officers, though, didn’t notify other passengers aboard.” (The Wall Street Journal)


A lack of communication left those trapped onboard the ships frightened and unsure. Some ships were quarantined in ports prior to releasing the passengers and allowing them to debark. Once trapped on the vessels it was easy for COVID to spread among the tight spaces and even easier for concerns to grow. 



The information provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical or legal advice, diagnosis or treatment. In addition, viewing the content on this website, requesting additional information, or transmitting information through a contact form does not form an attorney-client relationship with Snyder Sarno D’Aniello Maceri & da Costa. The information on this site is intended for educational purposes only and should never interfere with a patient/site visitor and his or her healthcare provider. 


For legal advice, please contact the firm. Only a trained professional will be able to ascertain if you do in fact have a case. Do not use the information provided in this article to make any legal or medical decisions. It is always best to speak with an expert.

Who to contact for help with a possible case

Partner, Paul M. da Costa, Esq., is a certified civil trial attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Mr. da Costa is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)1 and a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America. Paul M. da Costa and his team work tirelessly and aggressively to provide their clients with the strategic legal representation required to obtain substantial verdicts and settlements.

Through his tenacious and diligent advocacy, Mr. da Costa makes it his priority to “right the wrongs” that have been forced upon his clients. Mr. da Costa was recently retained by several of the families of residents at the Andover Subacute & Rehab facility where 17 bodies were found piles up in a makeshift morgue. 

Additionally, Mr. da Costa continued to handle high-profile matters that gained national media attention involving an Adenovirus outbreak at The Wanaque Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation where thirty-six pediatric patients were infected and eleven ultimately passed away from the virus. Paul testified before the NJ Senate Health Committee in December 2018 at a hearing focused on the Adenovirus outbreak.  He currently represents twelve families/children relating to the Adenovirus outbreak.

If you or a loved one are in need of legal representation regarding cruise line negligence, contact Paul M. da Costa, Esq., of Snyder Sarno D’Aniello Maceri & da Costa LLC. To schedule a consultation either call (973)274-5200 or email Mr. da Costa’s legal experience will enable him to help determine if you have a case and how to strategize your case to achieve a positive verdict. 

1. ABOTA is an invitation-only organization. Members must have at least five years of active experience as trial lawyers, have tried at least 10 civil jury trials to conclusion and possess additional litigation experience. ABOTA was founded in 1958, and its members are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the civil jury trial right provided by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ABOTA membership consists of more than 7,600 lawyers—equally balanced between plaintiff and defense—and judges spread among 96 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The general purposes of this Association shall be to foster improvement in the ethical and technical standards of practice in the field of advocacy to the end that individual litigants may receive more effective representation and the general public be benefited by more efficient administration of justice consistent with time-tested and traditional principles of litigation.

For more information from Click Here.
To Read the Full Wall Street Journal Article Click Here.

Message Us

If You Have a Case, Give Us A Call Today!



Bergen County Office

401 Hackensack Ave
Ste 706
Hackensack, NJ 07601

Open Today 8:30am - 5:30pm

Morris County Office

19 Cattano Ave.
Morristown, NJ 07960

Open Today 8:30am - 5:30pm

Essex County Office

425 Eagle Rock Ave
Ste 100
Roseland, NJ 07068

Open Today 8:30am - 5:30pm

Somerset County Office

440 Route 22 E
Ste 170
Bridgewater, NJ 08807

Open Today 8:30am - 5:30pm


Message Us