Marilyn Jones, 78, and her family have filed a federal lawsuit against Celebrity Cruises Inc. in the U.S. District Court of Southern Florida, claiming that the luxury liner’s staff failed to properly preserve the body of her husband, Robert Jones, 79, after he passed away during their Caribbean cruise. The couple had been married for 55 years and had set sail on August 13th on the Celebrity Equinox, with a planned 8-day excursion to ports in the East Caribbean.
Following two days on the cruise, Robert suffered a heart attack and passed away, leaving his wife to decide whether to keep his body in the ship’s morgue until they docked in Fort Lauderdale or to leave the ship with the body in San Juan. Marilyn was warned that if she chose the latter, there was a “50/50 chance” that a medical examiner in San Juan could take possession of the body and perform an autopsy and that she would be responsible for arranging travel for both herself and her deceased husband back home.
When the ship docked in Florida, the family was shocked to find that Robert’s body was not in the morgue but instead had been moved to a cooler on a different floor. This cooler was not cold enough to preserve the body, resulting in it being in a state of severe decomposition, which robbed the family of an open-casket funeral and wake service. The lawsuit claims that Celebrity Cruises should have been equipped to handle death and should have kept a working morgue or checked the body with reasonable frequency to ensure preservation.
The family is seeking a jury trial and damages of at least $1 million. A representative from Celebrity Cruises declined to comment on the matter due to the sensitivity of the allegations.