Celebrity Cruises is currently facing a lawsuit that alleges mishandling of a deceased passenger’s body, which was reportedly left to decompose in a drink cooler aboard one of their ships in August 2022.
The lawsuit has been filed by the widow of Robert Jones, who died of a heart attack while sailing the Caribbean on the Celebrity Equinox.
According to the lawsuit, the cruise line presented Jones’ widow, Marilyn Jones, with two options after her husband’s death: either pick up the body at the next port in Puerto Rico or have it stored in the ship’s morgue until the vessel returned to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, six days later. Marilyn Jones opted for the latter.
However, upon the ship’s return to Fort Lauderdale, a funeral home employee and a sheriff’s deputy discovered that the morgue was apparently out of service, and Robert Jones’ body was instead stored in a walk-in drink cooler on a pallet.
The lawsuit alleges that the walk-in cooler was much warmer than the temperature required to store a body, causing Robert Jones’ remains to be in advanced stages of decomposition.
The family claims they were unable to hold an open-coffin funeral for Robert, which was a long-standing family tradition.
Marilyn Jones, along with her daughters and grandchildren, are seeking $1 million in damages from Celebrity Cruises, stating that the experience caused extreme trauma and stripped Robert Jones of his dignity.
The lawsuit was filed in a federal district court in Fort Lauderdale.
The Celebrity Equinox is a Malta-flagged vessel that can carry nearly 3,000 passengers and 1,200 crew members. Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Group, declined to comment on the matter, citing the sensitivity of the alleged facts and respect for the family.