While cruise ship disasters are extremely rare, there is still a very slim chance that something could go wrong. This was proven in 2012 when, due to negligence from the onboard crew, the Costa Concordia sank off the shore of Isola del Giglio in Italy.
There were 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew on the ship when she sank, and sadly 32 people lost their lives, including some crew and some passengers.
But how about those who survived? What action have they taken since, and what compensation (if any) have they received?
Did passengers of Costa Concordia sue?
Some of the passengers of the Costa Concordia did sue the cruise line. The cruise line made an offer of compensation regardless, but some chose to seek litigation, either because the offered sum was too low in their eyes, or because of the trauma brought on by the event.
The biggest lawsuit was brought in Miami, and it wasn’t against Costa Cruises, but instead was a lawsuit against Carnival Group PLC, the parent company (which also owns Carnival Cruise Lines, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises and more).
This lawsuit was originally brought in 2012 by six of the passengers who had been on the ship and survived. It was asking for $528 million in total damages – $78 million in compensation and $450 million in punitive damages.
The original six plaintiffs were later joined by 33 more survivors who hoped to take the class action suit against Carnival to a successful end, and claim their own share of the hundreds of millions being sought.
Over time, the suits grew and a second was launched. By 2016, there were two suits being brought against Carnival Group – one with 57 plaintiffs, and one with 52 plaintiffs. But a court in Miami threw the suits out and declared that the survivors weren’t able to seek compensation in the US for the disaster, regardless of whether they were US citizens or not.
Instead, the recommendation was made for affected passengers to bring litigation through the Italian courts, specifically in Genoa. The alternative was to accept the compensation package being offered.
Some other passengers sued the cruise line directly, seeking compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder and other long-term conditions. A lot of the settlements have been made privately, but one passenger was paid $105,000 in 2021 after they won their lawsuit against the company.
Did the passengers of the Concordia get compensation?
All of the passengers of the Costa Concordia who survived the disaster were offered compensation, and the cruise line made separate compensation offers to the families of those who lost their lives in the incident.
Around a third of passengers took the compensation offer when it was first made, while others sought legal advice and a smaller percentage tried to take the cruise line to court. Most of the suits failed, but the compensation offers for those passengers still stood.
By 2015, 85% of passengers from the cruise ship had accepted compensation payments. Most of the crew had negotiated their compensation payments and accepted them by this point as well.
How much compensation did the survivors of Costa Concordia get?
The compensation package offered to surviving passengers of the Costa Concordia disaster was worth €11,000, which is approximately £9,460 or $12,000. Crew were reimbursed differently, being paid their full wages for either two months or the remainder of their contract, whichever was longer.
On top of the compensation offered, passengers also received a full refund of their cruise fare and reimbursement for other costs they had incurred, including air and bus travel costs that were originally included in the holiday, and the travel expenses for returning home.
Guests weren’t charged for any expenses they had incurred during the cruise, and they were also able to claim back any medical costs that resulted from the sinking of the ship.
The cruise line recovered as much property from the safes on the ship as possible and paid to have it returned to guests, but there was no separate reimbursement for other belongings lost in the disaster – this was already covered by the compensation offer.
Costa made clear that the payments made by the cruise line would not impact any payments made to guests by their travel insurance – so guests with insurance would be able to claim for their lost belongings that way as well.
Alongside the financial offer, the cruise line also granted all survivors access to a programme for psychological assistance.
The crew’s compensation was negotiated by a trade union, and alongside their paid wages, they were able to claim up to £2,250 for any lost property on the ship, as well as any expenses incurred as a result of the disaster.
In total, the cruise line paid out over €84 million in compensation to passengers and crew. An average of around €1 million was paid out to family members of the deceased, although for a time the cruise line was unable to find any successors to a German passenger who died on the ship. It’s unclear whether the cruise line has since been able to find family members to make a payment to.
The Costa Concordia may seem like a disaster which happened a long time ago, but some of the lawsuits have only been settled as recently as 2021, and there is a chance that further litigation could be brought against the cruise line.
Most of those who were onboard the ship and survived have accepted the offers made to them, closing that chapter. Lessons have certainly been learned and hopefully – with the heightened safety awareness of the senior crew members on ships – we will never see a disaster of this extent ever again.
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