High Court reporters
The daughter of a solicitor who is suing a travel agent for alleged false imprisonment while on a cruise ship has said the 2015 holiday was an experience she “didn’t want to remember”.
Caitlin Fanning was 13 when she and her mother Caroline Fanning were disembarked from Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis of the Seas’ after Caroline made what she said was a “sarcastic” comment about suicide during a phone call with the ship’s receptionist on the first night of their trip.
Caroline Fanning (49) is suing booking agent Trailfinders Ireland Limited, which has an office on Dawson Street, Dublin, while RCL Cruises Limited has been brought into the case as a notice party.
Trailfinders and RCL Cruises deny the allegations.
In the witness box on Thursday, Caitlin Fanning (now aged 21) said she woke during the night of August 9th, 2015, to hear her mother have two calls with the guest services receptionist.
During the second call, her mother sounded “more agitated” and “stern”, emphasising that she couldn’t sleep and felt seasick, Caitlin told the High Court jury.
She couldn’t remember the exact words her mother used, but, Caitlin said, it was something like: “If we don’t move room you will have to deal with, like, a suicide.”
Having lived with her mother all her life, Caitlin interpreted that the tone of the comment was sarcastic, she said.
Caitlin said her mother is a light sleeper, and they had moved hotel rooms in the past if there was loud noise next door.
Previously, Caroline Fanning told the court the receptionist had said she could only move room if there was a medical emergency. She said she responded sarcastically, saying: “there may be one tomorrow” and “there may be a suicide”.
Suicide prevention protocol
The ship’s suicide prevention protocol was triggered, and security personnel arrived at their cabin. The staff said Caroline Fanning needed to undergo an assessment with a psychiatrist before the protocol could be lifted.
Caitlin Fanning recalled being “frightened” when security guards were trying to bring her mother out of the room. Her mother refused to leave her alone with members of staff, she said. Caitlin remembered her mother saying there was nothing wrong and nothing was going to happen.
They were then “circled” by security staff as they were brought to an interior cabin, she said. She was “mortified” when they were later escorted to a medical centre, while still in their pyjamas, in view of other staring passengers.
I had visibly been crying… I felt it looked like I had done something incredibly wrong.
“I had visibly been crying… I felt it looked like I had done something incredibly wrong,” she said.
Caitlin said she felt like an “accessory” during the ordeal, as nobody spoke to her apart from her mother.
Book alternative accommodation
Caroline Fanning previously told the court that the psychiatrist told her he would be recommending the suicide prevention protocol could be lifted. Caitlin said she hoped at this point that the holiday could continue.
However, the mother and daughter were advised to book alternative accommodation as they were being disembarked in the Bahamas that day and could not continue their cruise. They were not refunded the cost of their trip.
It was “an experience that I didn’t want to remember”, she told the court, adding that she did not talk about it until this year. It was “something I never thought could happen to me”, she said.
Under cross-examination earlier this week, Caroline Fanning denied she intended for her suicide comment to be taken seriously by the cruise ship receptionist.
“I have never made a threat of suicide in my whole life. That [comment] was pure sarcasm,” she added.
Trailfinders, with RCL Cruises as a third party, will begin its defence on Friday before Mr Justice Alexander Owens and a jury.