A newly-wed American couple who were horrifically burnt in the deadly Whakaari-White Island eruption are taking legal action against the cruise line and a New Zealand tour company.
The Daily Mail reports Matthew and Lauren Urey are suing Royal Caribbean for negligence, claiming the cruising company had ample warning the volcano was on the brink of erupting but did not take steps to warn passengers signed up for the crater excursion.
Local tour management company ID Tours is listed as a co-defendant in the action, which is to be lodged in the Miami District Court in the US.
The eruption, which took place on December 9, killed 21 people including two local tour guides. Two victims who succumbed to the molten ash explosion have never been found.
The couple's attorney Michael Winkleman said his clients and all victims of the eruption deserve justice over the horrifying incident.
In a chilling account of the moment the volcano off the Bay of Plenty coast erupted, the British newspaper says the married couple from Richmond, Virginia, were unable to find refuge when white smoke began billowing from a crater lake. Both were left with life-changing injuries.
"My body was literally sizzling," said Lauren, 33.
"I was holding Matt's hand and I just kept telling him I loved him because I thought it was only seconds before we would both die."
Engineer and science enthusiast Matthew, 36, recounted: "It was darker than the darkest nights you've ever seen. It was scalding hot, agonising, we were getting pelted with rocks."
Now recovering back home after two months in New Zealand hospitals, the pair allege Royal Caribbean had ample warning the volcano was dangerously close to erupting but did not give this information to passengers.
They claim they were never told the island had erupted multiple times in the previous decade, most recently in December 2016.
The couple say this amounts to an unforgivable "failure to warn" by Royal Caribbean and ID Tours, the local New Zealand firm contracted to run the excursions.
"Our lives are changed forever. We are never going to be the people we were before this happened, we are never going to look the same," said Matthew, who was left with burns covering more than half of his body.
The newlyweds told the Daily Mail they would never have gone to the volcano if they had known warning levels had been raised just three weeks earlier.
The suit states that New Zealand's volcanic monitoring service, GeoNet, had increased its alert for White Island to 2, the highest number it can record before an eruption.
"Multiple similar Volcanic Alert Bulletins were released and available in the weeks and days leading up to the ill-fated excursion, yet at no time did Royal Caribbean provide any warning or notice regarding any increased likelihood of volcanic activity," the couple's attorney Michael Winkleman told the Daily Mail.
"In fact, Royal Caribbean did precisely the opposite. Instead of giving a warning to its passengers to make them aware of the increased danger, by failing to give any notice regarding the danger, passengers were reasonably led to believe that the excursion to the volcano was safe and without any danger."