Lawsuit Alleges Celebrity Cruises Put Workers at Risk of COVID-19 by Having Onboard Crew Parties
"I felt like we're partying like we’re spring breakers on a cruise when there is a pandemic happening," said one worker.
Last week the Centers for Disease Control issued no sail orders for any cruise line operating in U.S. waters after several high-profile incidents of COVID-19 spread on board cruise ships.
Although passengers may not be on the ships, there are still thousands of workers. Now, a lawsuit has been filed claiming that, in March, some cruise line employees were put at risk of catching the coronavirus because of Celebrity Cruises' response.
Stuck at sea, Julia Melim, who hosts a closed circuit TV shopping show, began to worry that the virus was spreading on her ship, the Celebrity Infinity.
"I literally just fell to the ground and started crying," Melim said.
But she was shocked when she says the cruise line encouraged her fellow crew members to dance the night away at an organized staff party.
"I felt like we're partying like we’re spring breakers on a cruise when there is a pandemic happening," she said.
Waitress Alexandra Nedeltcheva said similar crew parties were encouraged aboard her ship, the Celebrity Apex.
"During that time, when everybody was talking about social distancing, they organized a crew party," Nedeltcheva told Inside Edition.
Melim and Nedeltcheva are now represented by their attorney Michael Winkleman who has filed a class action lawsuit for Nedeltcheva on behalf of her and other cruise ship employees against Celebrity Cruises Inc.
"Instead of doing things like giving them masks, practicing social distancing, having quarantines like most of us have been accustomed to, they were still actually having crew parties where they were offering free alcohol, so you had literally hundreds of people gathering," Winkleman told Inside Edition.
Celebrity Cruises wouldn't comment on the lawsuit, but said in a statement to Inside Edition:
"We are fully focused on protecting the well-being of our crew and are maintaining rigorous health protocols, including elevated deep cleaning and sanitization procedures aboard our ships. In accordance with the latest medical guidance, our ships are practicing social distancing, and in an abundance of caution our crewmembers have been asked to self-isolate in their staterooms for a 14-day quarantine period. We are actively monitoring the health of our crewmembers, and any who exhibit influenza-like symptoms are placed in isolation and receive constant care under physician observation. We have placed a priority on crew repatriation and are working closely with appropriate authorities to facilitate the safe return of our crewmembers to their homes and families."
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