ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has launched an investigation into allegations that Norwegian Cruise Lines intentionally mislead customers about the dangers of the highly contagious coronavirus, according to a news release from Moody’s office.
According to the release, NCL is accused of giving members of its sales team one-liners to respond to customers who expressed concerns about COVID-19. The scripted responses reportedly downplayed the severity of the outbreak in an effort to get customers to go through with purchasing their cruise packages, the news release said.
In the release, Moody said she was disturbed by the allegations, which have surfaced amid a global health pandemic.
“We are in the thick of a public health crisis like our modern world has never experienced. My Consumer Protection Division is conducting an extensive investigation to get to the bottom of the disturbing allegations against Norwegian Cruise Lines," Moody said.
Officials with Moody’s office said the allegations first came to light in reports from news outlets in Miami, which claim a whistleblower leaked emails that showed cruise line managers encouraging employees to downplay the risk of catching the virus by saying things like, “the only thing you need to worry about for your cruise is do you have enough sunscreen,” and “the coronavirus can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise.”
Moody said officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, as well as countless other health experts, have found those statements to be inaccurate and “blatantly false.”
“The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainable in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas,” the CDC said on its website.
The CDC also recommended that people hold off on cruising while the world continues to battle the pandemic.
Earlier this month, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, suspended all cruise voyages embarking between March 13 and April 11.
Moody’s office said Norwegian Cruise Line is cooperating with the investigation and encouraged others to use the investigation as a lesson.
“Let this serve as a warning to anyone seeking to mislead consumers during these challenging times. I will do everything within the power of this office to hold accountable those who would prey on Floridians during this health crisis,” Moody said.
News 6 has reached out to Norwegian Cruise Lines for comment regarding the allegations but has not heard back.
Moody has also worked to protect Floridians from price gauging and other scams in light of the pandemic by opening a hotline to residents.
To report price gouging or scams related to the COVID-19 emergency, call 1-866-9NO-SCAM or visit MyFloridaLegal.com.