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Carnival Corp. has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit filed in February by passengers angered that the cruise line ruined their plans to celebrate Christmas on Grand Cayman Island. The deal, which was signed off on last week by Miami-Dade, Fla., Circuit Court Judge Philip Bloom, requires Carnival to provide some 3,000 passengers of the Imagination and Tropicale with a fully transferable travel voucher that reduces future fares by 35 percent. For example, if a cruise cost $2,000, the voucher would be worth $700. Passengers also will be receiving a $35 credit for on-board expenses. Michael Campbell of Campbell & Denes in Miami, who represented the passengers, said the key to the agreement is the fact that the vouchers are fully transferable. “The transferability aspect enhances the value of the coupon such that a class member could sell or give the coupon to someone else, who then could redeem it,” Campbell said. Though Carnival doesn’t admit wrongdoing, the cruise line agreed to pay attorney fees and costs up to $100,000. “Carnival feels that it has very strong legal defenses to the lawsuit and would have prevailed on the merits,” said Janet Humphreys of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton in Miami, who represented the cruise line. “But, Carnival was aware that some of its passengers were unhappy, and making our passengers happy and making them return passengers is of paramount concern,” she said. The cruise ships Imagination, which left from the Port of Miami, and Tropicale, which sailed out of Tampa, Fla., were to leave their respective ports on Dec. 23, 1999. The itinerary had passengers sailing to Grand Cayman, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel before returning Dec. 28. But just before leaving, passengers were told that instead of going to Grand Cayman, they would be stopping first in Key West, Fla., where the ship would be on Christmas Day. The suit claimed that Carnival had known for months before that it would have to change ports of call because the Cayman Island Department of Tourism had told the company the government would no longer let cruise ships call on Sundays and holidays, including Easter and Christmas. “Carnival, in its eternal quest for profits, made no effort whatsoever to advise the passengers of the change in itinerary,” the suit reads. The suit went on to claim that Carnival’s “failure to advise passengers prior to cruising of known itinerary changes of the vessel can be considered not less than unconscionable, unfair and deceptive trade practices.” If the deal gets final approval at a hearing in November, the suit will be dismissed with prejudice, and class members will be prevented from bringing new claims.

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