Cruise ship operators and cruise lines are suing each other, accusing each other of misappropriating money and rights that belong to cruise ships.
The suit filed in federal court in New York on Tuesday alleges that the cruise ship industry is under “a state of emergency” as cruise lines struggle to meet demand for their ships and cruise line owners complain that the lawsuits are unfairly targeting them.
The suits were filed by cruise lines in New Jersey, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana and North Dakota.
Cruise line operators, who are in the business of selling cruise ships for between $600,000 and $1.5 million, say they’re in a “race to the bottom” as competitors such as Carnival Corp., Etihad Airways and Hawaiian Cruise Lines have surged in recent years.
They say that since the advent of cruise lines such as Star Alliance and Virgin Atlantic, the industry has grown by more than 1,500% and their business is growing faster than their competitors.
In one lawsuit, a group of cruise line operators are asking a judge to dismiss a suit filed by the California-based Pacific Northwest Cruise Line against the operator of the company’s flagship vessel, the Princess Cruises, accusing the cruise line of improperly acquiring a 20% share of the Princess in 2014.
In its suit, the cruise lines claim that the deal gave Pacific Northwest the right to sell Princess Cruisers and cruise liners in the United States and Canada to cruise lines and airlines at prices that were higher than those the cruise ships could reasonably afford.
Pacific Northwest’s claim, which the cruise linters say is not supported by any law or fact, is that the Princess was sold at a profit to a company in China that, in turn, used that profit to buy the Princess, and then used the profits to purchase more Princess cruises, according to the suit.
The lawsuits also accuse the operators of violating federal antitrust laws by conspiring to rig the bidding process for the sale of Princess Cruizes to cruise line and airline partners and then using the proceeds of that bid to buy more Princess.
Pacific Northwest said in a statement that it had no comment.
A statement from the New York attorney general’s office said that the actions of the cruise operators would “put at risk millions of lives, property and property interests and hurt consumers, especially those living in rural communities.”
The industry has struggled with its economy in recent decades, as more and more passengers and crew members are seeking to travel on smaller vessels that are less expensive to operate.
But that has also prompted more lawsuits and a growing number of lawsuits filed by competing cruise lines, according.
The suits come after a string of recent controversies over how cruise lines have treated passengers on their ships.
Last month, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union sued cruise lines alleging that cruise line crews treated passengers more rudely and inhumanely than other crew members, including female cabin crew members.
The unions claim that a 2015 cruise line passenger who was subjected to “unprovoked physical and verbal abuse” during a flight on a flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles was not given a reasonable accommodation to help with the pain.
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that cruise lines were not protected by federal labor law from a labor-management conflict because cruise lines “knowingly or intentionally discriminate” against workers who are members of the union.
The cruisers have also come under fire for the way they handle passengers, often ignoring or dismissing complaints of safety issues, and using harsh and sometimes abusive tactics when they have them.
In 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard launched an investigation into the Carnival cruise line after an independent audit found that the company “repeatedly violated safety standards by failing to protect passengers, crew and crewmembers.”
The lawsuits could add to a long list of legal headaches for the industry.
In the wake of the 2014 Las Vegas shooting, which killed 59 people, the Justice Department sued the cruise industry for alleged safety violations in the wake.
Last year, the New Jersey Attorney General sued Carnival, accusing it of failing to enforce a new state law prohibiting the sale and distribution of alcohol on ships.