How a Cruise Ship Kept Sailing After Passengers Fell Ill with Coronavirus

The company, which is part of the Carnival Corp., came under fire in 2012, when its Costa Concordia ran aground off Tuscany, killing 32 people. The captain was sentenced to 15 years for manslaughter.

The Costa Luminosa first left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for a cruise around the Caribbean on Feb. 24. But the coronavirus was raging in Italy, and Jamaica did not let the Italians disembark as scheduled on Feb. 28. The next day, one of the ship’s passengers, a 68-year-old Italian man, was evacuated on Grand Cayman Island after having two heart attacks.

The ship returned to Fort Lauderdale to drop some passengers off and pick more up. Destination: Venice. It was to be a grand affair with stops in Antigua, Puerto Rico, Málaga, Spain, the Canary Islands and Marseille.

“We had planned a bucket list trip — 30-night cruise and 30 around Europe, as my husband had spent 40 nights in the hospital back in October and November,” Mrs. Nevis, who was on the ship with her 80-year-old husband, said in an email.

Kelly D. Edge, 60, a former HGTV decorator who lives in Miami, booked the cruise at the last minute with her husband, Woody Edge, 65. Rates on the Costa Cruises itinerary were already so appealing — starting at $350 a person for a windowless cabin — that the couple booked a suite for $1,250 a person. After the epidemic, Ms. Edge wanted her money back, but the company wasn’t giving refunds. She packed a roll of paper towels and disinfectant wipes.

When they arrived for their sailing on March 5, Costa sent them an email saying that the United States wouldn’t let the ship go to Italy, so their final destination would be Marseille, instead. They got a $500 shipboard credit.

“So we committed and went on,” Ms. Edge said. “So we felt manipulated from the beginning.”

The ship was only half full.

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