An actress who had a role in "Marriage Story" and her husband are suing Princess Cruises, alleging their room on the Emerald Princess ship was infested with bedbugs and left them with bites all over their bodies. The cruise line has responded with a statement addressing the couple's concerns.
Connie and Alvin Flores allege in a lawsuit, filed in November 2019, that their stateroom aboard the cruise they took a year earlier was "infested with hundreds of bedbugs." The pair cruised from Nov. 28, 2018, through Dec. 4, 2018, out of Los Angeles. Connie Flores played an "arguing woman" in "Marriage Story," and is now speaking publicly about the suit.
"My husband and I thought we were going on our dream vacation for our wedding anniversary. Never did we imagine that we would be trapped on a ship with a room infested with bedbugs," Flores told USA TODAY in a statement. "This was a horrific experience, and no one should ever go through such pain and trauma. This ordeal has prompted us to be advocates and bring awareness to people who have been exposed to bedbugs."
The couple is seeking $75,000 in damages.
"The exposure to Connie and her husband is another indication of the bedbug epidemic not only in the United States, but also worldwide," Brian Virag, Flores' attorney, told USA TODAY in a statement.
The lawsuit alleges the cruise line was "negligent, wanton, reckless" and failed to deal with pest control aboard the ship. It also states the bug bites aggravated a preexisting physical condition.
"The bedbugs latched onto the (couple) while they slept and sucked their blood until they were gorged," the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in California, reads. "(The couple) suffered from numerous bites and skin rashes, which caused pain, discomfort, annoyance sleeplessness, inconvenience, humiliation, anxiety and emotional distress." The couple alleges employees and medical staff both refused and delayed their requests for care and a new room.
In response, Princess Cruises emphasized stateroom attendants are trained to spot bedbugs.
"We were very sorry to hear about Ms. Flores' concerns," spokeswoman for Princess Cruises Negin Kamali told USA TODAY. "Princess Cruises is committed to following and often exceed stringent sanitation and health guidelines. Given that this is an open lawsuit, we are limited in what information we can share right now, however, it is worth noting, our room attendants are highly trained to identify bedbugs and all staterooms are thoroughly inspected each month as a preventative measure."
"By virtue of how the cruise vacation experience is designed our staterooms receive considerably more cleaning attention by our room attendants than a hotel room on land (twice a day, including evening turn-down service along with a thorough cleaning – including changing linen at the end of each cruise)," the statement continued. "It would be highly unusual for the presence of bedbugs to go unnoticed for more than the length of one cruise."
What are bedbugs and what should you do if you find them?
Bedbugs are tiny insects approximately the size of an apple seed. Adult bedbugs are oval, reddish-brown and flat. Younger ones can be difficult to see because they're so small.
And there's a reason they're called bedbugs: They like to lurk during the daytime where people sleep and feed on them at night (bedbugs feed on both human and animal blood). The insects can be found in a host of places from mattresses to bedding to cracks in furniture to under carpeting and more.
Bedbugs can be found worldwide, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are not a reflection on the cleanliness of any accommodation (so, yes, even a five-star hotel can have bedbugs). They don't spread disease nor are they seen as dangerous, but allergic reactions to bites could require a doctor visit.
The bites look like mosquito or flea bites, with a swollen, red spot that could itch or hurt. They could present randomly as well as in a straight line. Some people might not have any adverse reaction to the bites, but others could see swelling.
Make looking for them a priority. The University of Minnesota recommends looking at the edging and seams of mattresses and box springs, as well as a bed's headboard. You should also check out the furniture near the bed, cracks in nightstands as well as behind picture frames, where bedbugs can hide.
If you notified staff and they are indeed bedbugs, make sure you ask to be moved to a different room (and not one next to the one where you stayed).
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Princess Cruises responds after 'Marriage Story' star sues for bedbugs