The Palm Beach Post is reporting that a lawsuit was filed this week against Royal Caribbean by families of children with autism who faced the February 6th storm which terrorized many passengers aboard the Anthem of the Seas.

The article was written by the the Palm Beach Post’s weather reporter, Kim Miller, in her blog called WeatherPlus.  

Ms. Miller writes that "40 families of children with autism sued the luxury cruise company saying Anthem o fthe Seas Stormofficials were negligent in their actions to sail the Anthem of the Seas into the storm despite forecasts that predicted turbulent weather."  

She cites the lawsuit filed on Monday which says that "there were 40 families with Autism Spectrum Disorder children aboard the vessel and parents and aides did their best to protect themselves and their children who were being severely battered and traumatized."

The lawsuit represents a potential public relations nightmare for the cruise line which, ironically, has collaborated with Autism on the Seas, a non-profit national organization, since 2007, in developing cruise vacation services to accommodate adults and families living with children with special needs, including "autism, asperger syndrome, down syndrome, tourette syndrome, and cerebral palsy." 

Royal Caribbean said that the lawsuit lacks merit. The cruise line again commented that the Anthem encountered "unexpectedly severe storm" but still kept "the ship safe . . ." 

This may well prove to be a difficult case to defend given the fact that weather forecasts predicted 30+ foot waves and hurricane strength winds which rocked the cruise ship and damaged at least one of the ship’s azipod propulsion units in the storm. 

The court records reflect that John Ostrow of Miami and Alan Trachtman of New York City represent the families. Long time cruise line defense lawyer Curtis Mase of the Mase and Lara law firm in Miami is representing Royal Caribbean in the first two lawsuits arising out of the storm last month. 

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Photo Credit: Incredible World / ABC News / Youtube

  • ryba

    They have every right to sue! We were thinking of those poor children during the storm. If we were terrified and in fear of death ourselves, then I can’t imagine what it was like for these children and their caregivers!!

  • John Goldsmith

    I think that in order for a law lawsuit like this to be won, It would have the be first established that the cruise line, the captain and others got together and decided ( What the Hell, Let’s just sail into a really big storm to scare the shit out of passengers and staff.) Once you determine that that is what happened before the cruise, all lawsuits can be settled quickly.

  • Bill

    Unless RCCL publicly apologizes, you can bet that more families having kids with Autism will stop cruising them. Our last cruise with them, their “Autism Friendly” child program did virtually nothing with our daughter. Unless, you consider isolating her with a coloring activity as something. Our first cruise with NCL this past September, the child program staff focused on inclusion, and not exclusion. It was a good learning opportunity for the other kids as well. I was so impressed, that I personally commended the Hotel Director and the Cruise Director. RCI’s “Autism Friendly Program” is a farce from our experience.

  • Ruth

    I have been on a couple of different cruise lines and I know the would never turn back or wait out a storm. Even if they were aware of a storm at sea they would still set sail as planned. It’s about the almighty dollar. I have a 7 yr old grandson and would love to someday let him experience a cruise, but with stories like this the poor kid would go into a meltdown! They also need employees and coordinators that specializes in autism and other disabilities. These are very special children and need to be respected. God bless our children.

  • aep736

    What was so discouraging was post cruise learning how much of a desperate situation we were in and this all could have been avoided. Shame on RCC.
    I am hearty New Englander, been in the marine industry, a sailor, and have weathered out many storms, hurricanes, etc on land and sea. This storm was the singular most petrifying time of my life. Knowing also I put my family at such a risk just wrecked me. Now, any rain storm or wind storm makes my heart race, I break out in a sweat, and start to shake. Even when I am safe in my home. No way could I drive in a rain storm at this point. I am on the edge of making an appointment for anti anxiety pills for the next rain storm. Thanks RCC.
    Yes, RCC did credit us for our expenses. And a credit for our next cruise. Ha. That will not be happening.

  • Brad

    I was not on this ship. I have been on 40+ Cruises and I am a Diamond Plus Member. My thoughts is regardless of what was predicted by weather channel, they have their own weather doppler on board. Now, having said that, if they feel that it is a bad storm, they will make an attempt to go around it or cancel the first destination for another island or stay away from the storm and be at sea until it passes. Those saying “They deliberately went into the storm,” that is your opinion and what Facts do you have to justify your reasoning? (I know for a Fact what I say is true because my brother has worked for RCCL and has friends still on there and I have been in situations where seas were rough, ship swaying and barf bags on step on each deck coming from Cape Hatteras)

    By the way, I am disabled and use a power scooter.