Cruiser Wins Payout from Cruise Line for "Deeply Offensive" Jokes

August 22, 2012
(11:30 a.m. EDT) -- An Irish man who sued P&O Cruises has won an out-of-court settlement because he was offended by jokes told by comedians onboard two P&O ships.

The Guardian's "Northern Blog" reported that John Wolfe, a retired construction worker from Dublin, is believed to have been paid out a five-figure sum from the cruise line because of jokes which allegedly stereotyped Irish people.

Wolfe and his wife Joan originally complained to P&O following a cruise onboard Oriana in 2007, according to the Guardian's blog. On the world cruise, the couple saw a comedy routine that included a series of Irish jokes which were "deeply offensive and left him feeling humiliated."

The cruise line gave the Wolfes £1,000 in vouchers following the initial complaint and reportedly assured them that such jokes would be banned from comedy acts onboard. But when the couple were on a Caribbean cruise onboard P&O's Artemis (which has since been sold) the following year and allegedly heard similarly offensive jokes, they ultimately decided to bring civil litigation against Carnival plc, parent group of the P&O line.

Wolfe reportedly represented himself during proceedings and, though the case was set to be tried in a Manchester court, it was settled before going to trial.

According to the Guardian, Wolfe brought the case under both UK and EU race relations legislation. The court struck out the claim, focusing instead on the question of whether Carnival plc was responsible for the actions of the comedians it uses onboard its ships. Carnival claimed innocence because the comedians had been hired indirectly, via a sub-contractor. Separately, Carnival asserted that, as both incidents took place outside U.K. waters, they cannot be tried under U.K. law.

A P&O spokesperson said, “We can confirm that this case has been resolved amicably out of court to the satisfaction of both parties.”

P&O have also been brought up on charges in Australia, where a passenger alleged sexual harassment against the cruise line.

--by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Content Producer