A Tennessee woman is suing Miami-based cruise line Royal Caribbean claiming the company was fatally slow in responding to a tragedy at sea.
Vera Marion says that when her daughter A'riel fell overboard during a cruise on The Allure of the Seas on September 16, Royal Caribbean waited two hours before contacting the U.S. Coast Guard. A'riel's body was never found. The suit also claims Marion was put under guard, prevented from searching for her daughter, and kept from attending even the ship's chapel to pray. "She repeatedly pleaded with crew members to leave her alone, but they refused. This situation persisted for days," the lawsuit claims.
Royal Caribbean has denied wrongdoing in the case.
The allegations aren't the first scandal to tarnish The Allure of the Seas, which is the largest passenger ship ever built.
In February of 2011, just three months after its maiden voyage, one of the ship's crew members was murdered on a beach in Cozumel during a stop-over.
A few days later, a passenger was arrested during a gay cruise for selling drugs aboard The Allure.
Neither of those incidents was as big of a blow to Royal Caribbean as Marion's allegations, however. Her lawsuit, which was first reported earlier this week by Courthouse News, implicitly blames her daughter's death on the cruise line for not immediately stopping the ship and notifying authorities.
According to the suit, Marion's suffering was only compounded by the cruise line.
"For the remainder of the cruise, crew members did not permit Vera Marion to leave the cabin or travel anywhere about the ship without the presence of security," the suit claims. She was also told to keep her cabin door unlocked. "As a result, male crew members walked in on Vera Marion unannounced while she was undressed, on several occasions."
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Perhaps worst of all, the suit claims that Royal Caribbean publicized details of the death before Marion had had a chance to notify A'riel's family members.
"Vera Marion's boys learned of this news from home and attempted unsuccessfully to contact their mother to ask if it was A'riel who went overboard," the suit claims.
When the incident occurred, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman told local news that any delay was only to verify that someone had, indeed, fallen overboard before asking the Coast Guard to "commit to sending assets to help search."