The Cruel Reality of Cruise Ship Morgues: Widow Files Lawsuit

In August, Marilyn Jones and her husband Robert embarked aboard the Celebrity Equinox for an eight-day Caribbean cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Just two days into the journey, Robert, 79, suffered a fatal heart attack. In a federal lawsuit filed this week, Marilyn Jones alleges she was offered two choices: disembark with her husband’s body in Puerto Rico or have it stored in the ship’s morgue until returning to Florida. Knowing that the ship could safely transport her husband’s body, she chose to remain on board.

When they returned to Florida, a funeral home attendant and a Broward County sheriff’s deputy discovered that Mr. Jones’ body had been found moved from the morgue to a drinks cooler. Due to the low temperature in the cool box, his body had decomposed to such an extent that an open coffin was no longer possible at his funeral. Marilyn Jones and her family are now seeking a jury trial and at least $1 million in damages for their trauma.

Celebrity Cruises has not released a statement about the lawsuit, citing the sensitivity of the alleged facts and out of respect for the family. The lawsuit reveals Ms Jones was told the exit in San Juan was accompanied by a “50/50 shot” by the local coroner’s office, which took possession of her husband’s body for an autopsy before turning it over to a funeral home.

Maritime Attorney Jacob Munch, representing Mrs Jones, told the New York Times cruise lines are obligated to maintain morgues, especially in sensitive situations like this one. The lawsuit alleges that Celebrity Cruises’ handling of the matter was “reckless and careless,” leaving the family devastated and struggling to heal.

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