HOUSTON -- Passengers sued Norwegian Cruise Line seeking refunds
and punitive damages following air-conditioning outages on three
cruises of the Norwegian Star. The suit represents about 2,000
passengers who sailed on the ship's Oct. 19, Oct. 26 and Nov. 23
Caribbean cruises out of Houston.
Plaintiffs' attorney Robert Chaffin, of Chaffin Law Firm in
Houston, proposed an out-of-court settlement that calls on NCL to
give passengers a full refund for each of the cruises as well as a
free future cruise. The firm said its offer, made Dec. 4, was good
for seven days. The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for
A Dallas law firm, McColl and McColloch, filed a similar suit
NCL on Nov. 30 offered to compensate passengers with a 25%
credit toward a future seven-day Caribbean cruise and deducted $100
from their on-board bills. Amid mounting bad publicity, NCL upped
the credit for a future cruise to 50% on Dec. 1 and to 100% on Dec.
2. That offer was valid only to those who sailed on the
NCL president Hans Golteus said the line could not respond
directly to the suit until it had time to study it, but he added,
"We believe we have made the passengers a very fair offer." He said
the Norwegian Star's technical problem arose in three of the ship's
seven generators, but the problem has been corrected.
An NCL spokeswoman said the ship's air conditioning on the
Thanksgiving cruise was off throughout the ship for a maximum of 16
hours from Nov. 28 to Nov. 29, although there might have been
intermittent outages at other times. She said there has been no
recurrence on the ship's current cruise. The spokeswoman
acknowledged intermittent outages on the Oct. 19 and Oct. 26
cruises, for which NCL offered compensation of a 25% credit toward
a future cruise.
But the Chaffin firm's suit here alleged that the Oct.19 cruise
"had total [air-conditioning] failure for four days in a row," and
the air conditioning on the Oct. 26 cruise "failed for three
consecutive days." The suit puts the "total outage" of the
Thanksgiving cruise at 24 hours.
The suit argues that NCL is liable because the company booked
the cruises with awareness the Norwegian Star had "known defects."
In addition, the suit charges the ship had plumbing problems "such
as lack of hot water, discolored water and flooding in cabins."
The NCL spokeswoman denied that such problems were widespread on
Donald Worley, another attorney at the Chaffin firm, said that
many area agents were calling in to add their clients' names to the
list of plaintiffs.
The 800-passenger, 28,000-ton Norwegian Star began an innovative
program from Houston on May 25, benefiting from $1 million in cash
incentives and a two-years' exclusive use of a $2.5 million cruise
The vessel was was built in 1973 as the Royal Viking Sea,
entering the Royal Cruise Line fleet in 1991 as the Royal Odyssey.
Both lines at the time were owned by NCL's parent company. After
the liquidation of both lines, NCL took over the Royal Odyssey.
Before entering dry dock last spring for its recommissioning as
the Norwegian Star, a series of viral outbreaks sickened passengers
on three consecutive Caribbean cruises.