Norwegian Cruise Line Wins $159 Million Lawsuit

Norwegian Cruise Line wins $159 million in a lawsuit against ABB over Azipod propulsion issues on four cruise ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line received a favorable verdict recently in a lawsuit against the company that provided the Azipod propulsion systems in use onboard many of the company’s cruise ships.

After a jury trial that took four weeks, the judgment came back in favor of the cruise line, awarding the company $159 million. 

According to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, ABB Inc and ABB OY, American and Finnish companies, respectively, made fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations and omissions about their propulsion systems. The award is the largest in Florida in 2022. 

Norwegian Cruise Line Sues Azipod Propulsion Provider

Onboard many Norwegian Cruise Line ships, the propulsion for the vessels is provided by Azipod systems. These marine propulsion units consist of a fixed-pitch propeller mounted on a steerable gondola. As electricity is produced inside the main engine room, these Azipod systems use that electricity to power the propellers.

Norwegian Cruise Line claimed in the lawsuit that ABB purposefully misrepresented the reliability and safety of its Azipods, leading NCL to suffer Azipod failures.

Odyssey of the Seas Propellers Installation
Photo By: Meyer Werft

These failures caused NCL to lose propulsion and steering during voyages, endangering the safety of passengers and crew and causing significant harm to NCL’s reputation and business. 

After a four-week jury trial in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, Norwegian Cruise Line provided sufficient proof, leading to the jury deciding in the cruise line’s favor. 

Norwegian Cruise Line’s lawyers Holland & Knight, said the following through partner Alex M. Gonzalez:

“This is a case about fraud and negligent misrepresentation and omissions that ruined the cruises of tens of thousands of passengers and damaged NCL’s business,” 

“The defendants knew that they had a problem with a critical component that impacted the safety of countless passengers and crew, and they hid and lied about it. This verdict sends an important message that you can’t conceal or misrepresent critical information from customers like NCL and other cruise lines. NCL feels fully vindicated by this verdict.”

Several Ships Impacted

Over the last couple of years, several Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ships have been impacted by propulsion problems. One example comes from Norwegian Jade; on November 18, 2018, the exciter failed on Norwegian Jade’s starboard Azipod, forcing it to cancel a 10-day cruise and costing the company at least $10.8m, according to the lawsuit.

Norwegian Jade Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: David Fowler / Shutterstock

“They were lucky that even though they were in risky parts of the ocean, it happened to be a day that had fantastic, calm weather,” Gonzalez said. “But luck isn’t a strategy when you have thousands of people aboard a ship for which you are responsible.”

In total, the problems with the Azipod systems impacted four of Norwegian Cruise Line’s vessels during a three-year span.

In the meantime, ABB had claimed that issues such as that happened to Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships occurred only once every 1500 years.

The final compensation package for Norwegian Cruise Line includes $31.75 million in compensatory damages and an additional $31.75 million in punitive damages against the Finnish company OBB OY. A further $95.25 million in punitive damages was awarded to Norwegian Cruise Line against ABB Inc.


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