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Did Carnival Ignore the Threat of the Coronavirus?

Carnival Corp. faces lawsuits over its handling of the coronavirus threat.
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Cruise ships have been a major source of the coronavirus and Carnival Corp.  (CCL)  and its subsidiaries are in the crosshairs of lawsuits and at least one criminal investigation into whether the company ignored the threat of deadly disease.

A Texas woman whose husband died of the coronavirus filed a lawsuit against Carnival's Princess Cruises on Tuesday, KXAS-TV reported, charging that she and her spouse were allowed on board even though the crew knew they’d be exposed.

Susan and Michael Dorety boarded the Grand Princess in San Francisco on Feb. 21 to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. The lawsuit claims that earlier that day, at least two passengers infected with Covid-19 disembarked while more than 60 they exposed remained on the ship.

In addition, Princess Cruises' Ruby Princess vessel is currently part of a criminal investigation in Australia as the country's deadliest virus infection source into whether the company misled authorities about an outbreak aboard a ship docked in Sydney.

And Carnival's Costa Cruises subsidiary is facing multiple passenger lawsuits regarding its Covid-19 response. 

Princess says it’s cooperating with the investigation, according to Bloomberg, while Costa says: “We are prepared to vigorously defend ourselves.”

Princess Cruises said on Tuesday it would cancel all voyages until June-end, after a "no sail order" from U.S. health officials.

Since 2016 Carnival has failed 3% of ship-health inspections by the Centers for Disease Control, Bloomberg said, three times worse than rival Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.  (RCL) , which fails 1% of inspections. 

In February, Carnival's Diamond Princess accounted for more confirmed Covid-19 infections than any nation except for China. At least seven more of the company’s ships at sea have become virus hot spots, resulting in more than 1,500 positive infections and at least 39 fatalities.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean said on Wednesday it would lay off or furlough about 26% of its workforce in the United States, affecting nearly 1,300 of its more than 5,000 employees in the country. 

And last month, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced an investigation into Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings  (NCLH)  regarding allegations the company encouraged employees to downplay the risks associated with contracting Covid-19. 

Moody’s office said Norwegian is fully cooperating with the investigation.

Shares of all three cruise line companies were lower on Thursday.