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Royal Caribbean Hopes to Keep Volcano Lawsuits in Australia


Several Royal Caribbean guests who were severely injured during a volcano eruption in New Zealand have filed a lawsuit against the cruise line for exposing them to that danger. The majority of the litigants are U.S. citizens who were hoping to move the venue to the United States where it would ostensibly be easier for them to get a just settlement. However, Royal Caribbean is attempting to prevent the litigants from moving the lawsuit out of Australia. In this article, we’ll discuss the change of venue request and why it’s so important for many lawsuits.

What Does the Ticket Say? 

A ticket on a cruise is essentially a contract that forces guests to file lawsuits and claims in a certain way which always benefits the cruise line. One of the major considerations is that the cruise line can force litigants into the venue of their choice. Typically, this means a federal court or arbitration. Guests have very little wiggle room to oppose these requirements since the ticket is a contract signed by the guest, and by going on the cruise, they are agreeing to the contract.

Four litigants, two Australians, and two Americans have filed lawsuits here in the U.S. hoping that U.S. courts will hear the case as opposed to Australian ones. But Royal Caribbean is pointing to the ticket agreement that states that only the Australian state of New South Wales may here cases. Indeed, the guests signed the contract that forces them into that venue. Do they have any recourse?

Not really. An Australian lawyer for two of the plaintiffs claims that venue selection was never a part of the original ticket contract. However, venue selection is always a part of every cruise ticket contract, so the idea that this contract left that piece of information out is unlikely. It is more likely that the guests simply failed to read the ticket before signing.

Generally speaking, the cruise lines always win requests to move a venue from their selected choice. This is because they are not bound by as many rules as companies that operate on American soil because the incidents don’t occur on American soil. The incidents occur on the high seas. This clouds jurisdiction and the centuries-old maritime laws that we work off of have not kept up with changing realities. In other words, the cruise lines have considerable power to insulate themselves from certain types of liability and have more power to choose venues that will cater to their needs.

That being said, the process must be fair to all parties. A company cannot force a guest to waive their right to file a lawsuit. They can, however, reduce certain options that would benefit the plaintiff. U.S. courts have a tendency to enforce the contract. Australian courts will likely do the same.

Talk to a Miami Cruise Line Injury Attorney 

If you’ve been injured on a cruise ship voyage, it may be possible to recover damages related to your medical expenses, lost wages, and reduced quality of life. Call Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.



  • American Association for Justice
  • Florida Justice Association
  • Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice

It's Your Time To Win

Contact the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. for a free initial consultation with Michael Guilford. Flexible appointment times are available. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. Call toll free 866-473-2636 or describe your injuries in an email.

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

Courthouse Tower, Suite 750
44 West Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130

Toll Free: 866-473-2636
Phone: 305-539-1999
Fax: 305-539-1998