Your average Carnival cruise offers plenty of entertainment options. You can stuff yourself full of deli meats and warmed-over pasta at the buffet. You can swim in a chlorinated pool in the middle of an ocean. You can pretend to like shuffleboard. Or, like Orlando resident Kurt Gies, you can strut your stuff in a contest to find the hairiest man on the boat.
Unfortunately for Gies, his turn on the catwalk didn't win him fame, riches, or even the appreciation of his fellow hirsute contestants. Instead, he claims, he got severe burns on his feet courtesy of the sun-baked surface of the Lido Pool Deck. He's now sued Carnival Cruise Lines for injuries, pain, and mental anguish related to the hoof-scorching.
"He burned his feet and got a severe infection, and the treatment wasn't appropriate either," says Gregory Glasser, who is representing Gies.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival's public relations department has its doubts about Gies's claims. "Based on video of the contest... several guests, including the plaintiff, were barefoot and do not exhibit any signs of distress during the video," Carnival's Vance Gulliksen writes in an email. "Further, there is no record of any guest reporting to the ship's medical center with burns to his or her feet."
Gies says his trouble began September 26, 2011, one day into a cruise on the Legend, which sailed out of Tampa. That's when he decided to take part in the boat's hairy-man competition.
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For the uninitiated, the contest is half fashion show, half amateur striptease. Judging from the disturbing number of contests uploaded to You Tube, between three to six guys who resemble Larry the Cable Guy square off with their best dance moves in front of a mortified judges' panel. Music by Baha Men blares in the background. The winner gets the satisfaction of being recognized as having no shame and a lot of body hair. The losers' prize is identical.
Gies was in it to win it. But then his bare feet made contact with the boat's deck, and agony set in, he says. His lawsuit alleges that Carnival employees initially laid towels on the deck and then, for some reason, removed them before the contest.
The combination of hairless foot soles and roasting deck surface led to nasty burns, as well as "serious and permanent scarring, disfigurement, and embarrassment," Gies claims.
Gies is seeking damages and coverage of his medical costs. He also claims he "lost the value of his cruise vacation." But didn't that part go overboard when he peeled off his shirt to the cries of a thousand slightly drunk Midwesterners?