Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office is investigating allegations that Norwegian Cruise Line gave “misleading and potentially dangerous sales pitches” to customers that downplayed the risks of coronavirus.
The investigation, announced Monday, comes after the Miami New Times published a story based on leaked internal emails from managers to employees about how to speak to the public about coronavirus.
According to the New Times report, Norwegian provided its sales force with inaccurate or misleading one-liners that downplayed the severity and contagiousness of coronavirus to customers, Moody’s office said.
The whistleblower-leaked emails included lines such as, “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,” according to Moody’s office.
“We are in the thick of a public health crisis like our modern world has never experienced,” Moody said in a statement. “My Consumer Protection Division is conducting an extensive investigation to get to the bottom of the disturbing allegations against Norwegian Cruise Line.
“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.”
Norwegian did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment. Norwegian released a statement to the Miami New Times on March 12, saying, “We remain committed to operating with integrity and providing our guests with the best possible vacation experiences across the globe. We are aware of the article in question and are looking into the matter.”
Moody’s office said Norwegian is fully cooperating with the investigation. The company’s corporate headquarters are in Miami.
Norwegian was among more than 50 cruise lines that suspended operations to and from US ports because of the coronavirus pandemic. The suspension, announced two weeks ago, will last for 30 days, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, a cruise line trade association.
“This has been a challenging time, but we hope that this decision will enable us to focus on the future and a return to normal as soon as possible,” said CLIA President and CEO Kelly Craighead.
Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Harry Sommer said the cruise line planned to resume cruises April 12.
The cruise line said voyages underway will conclude as soon as possible, though that has proven difficult. The Norwegian Jewel, which first embarked from Sydney on February 28, docked in Hawaii on Sunday after several countries refused to allow it to dock for fear of spreading coronavirus. There are no confirmed cases on board.