What was supposed to be a celebration of 40 years of marriage ended in tragedy as Texas resident Susan Dorety lost her husband Michael to a coronavirus infection she alleges he contracted aboard Princess Cruise Lines’ Grand Princess. Mrs. Dorety is suing the cruise line for damages in excess of $1 million for her husband’s death and the circumstances that led up to it.
Those circumstances are, unfortunately, perfectly aligned with behaviors exhibited by the cruise industry as a whole as it worked to shield itself from massive losses brought by the arrival of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Rather than recognize and attempt to mitigate its unique position in bringing thousands of people together at a time and keeping them constantly exposed to one another for days on end, the industry has chosen time and time again to do the complete opposite.
When the Dorety’s boarded the Grand Princess in San Francisco on February 21st to start their vacation, they had no idea that passengers who had just finished their own voyage were already showing symptoms of Covid-19 infection as they disembarked. Some 60 additional passengers that were carrying the novel coronavirus remained on the ship for the next leg of its journey as well.
As Michael Dorety became more and more ill while the ship’s doctor treated him with Tylenol and Tamiflu, the cruise line never told the couple that leaving the ship for treatment was an option. By the time he was finally able to get to a hospital, Michael was already fighting for his life. He died just days later, alone and in quarantine, while his wife and children listened on the phone.
The novel coronavirus was not an unknown to Princess Cruise Lines at the time of the Doretys’ boarding of the Grand Princess. The same cruise line saw an outbreak on a separate vessel that infected over 700 passengers. While the world locked down and started practicing social distancing, cruise lines like Princess Cruise Lines and others kept their ships moving. Internal documents revealed that a sales manager at Norwegian actually provided salespeople with false and misleading information about the coronavirus to give to sales leads that were concerned about their health and safety while taking a cruise.
Michael Dorety had been a professional firefighter for 39 years before his retirement and put his life on the line countless times as one America’s first responders. That he allegedly died as a result of Princess Cruise Lines’ putting their profits over his life only serves to add to the tragedy of the Doretys’ circumstance.