5 Things You Should Know About Claiming For A Cruise Ship Illness

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The Law Of…Claiming For Sickness On A Cruise

A cruise is meant to provide a relaxing experience that helps you to escape the stress of everyday life and indulge in a little well-earned luxury, but if you become violently ill while out at sea, the entire trip may become a nightmare that you just want to end, and you may question whether you wasted your money.


If the cause of your illness was not your fault and it can be shown that the cruise operator could have prevented it from occurring, then you may be in a position to claim compensation.

James Blower, Holiday Claims Solicitor, explains 5 things about claiming compensation for illness on a cruise.

1.     The Athens Convention Can Be Very Useful

The Athens Convention is a 2002 protocol which establishes liability for any sea ferrying vessel over its passengers, which in simpler terms means that it denotes who is responsible for what on a cruise. It declares that the 'carrier' is liable for any damage or loss incurred by a passenger or to their luggage during any time of the voyage, and this extends to both accidents and illnesses.

The Athens Convention applies to any vessel making a journey that is considered an "international carriage by sea", meaning that it must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Your ship's port of departure and destination must be different
  • Your ship's port of departure and destination are the same but there is a port of call in a different country

2.     There May Be A Time Limit On Your Claim

If the Athens Convention does apply to your case, it's important to be aware that you may only have 2 years from the date you disembarked the vessel at the end of the cruise or were moved from the vessel to be taken to hospital. If your claim is not taken to the Admiralty Division of the High Court within this period, it may be time-barred, meaning that you may be unable to make a claim.

3.     You Can Claim From Your Own Country

Another feature of the Athens Convention is that it enables you to claim compensation for an injury or illness from your country of residence, regardless of the location or port of call of the vessel at the time of your illness.

In other words, if you booked your cruise in the UK, but departed from Spain and then fell ill while your cruise was at port in Morocco, you would still take be able to make your compensation claim through a British solicitor in a UK court.

4.     Holiday Gastric Illnesses Happen on Cruise Ships Too

We speak to a lot of holidaymakers whose trip abroad was ruined by illness, and although cruises ships are arguably better contained than holiday resorts, it's still possible to contract a gastric illness.

We find that most holiday illnesses are caused by neglect on the part of the tour operator, usually in the preparation or storage of food, or from an overarching hygiene issue which leads to the spread infection. This can also be the case when it comes to cruise carriers

There are many different gastric illness pathogens that you may be able to claim for, including the following:

  • Salmonella - A type of bacteria that is commonly associated with food poisoning, symptoms usually include diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach cramps
  • E. coli - A waterborne bacteria that can cause stomach cramps, diarrhoea (potentially containing blood), gas, bloating, nausea and fatigue
  • Cryptosporidium - A parasite that can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, cramping and other related symptoms

Some of these illnesses can be caught by consuming contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. It's worth noting that meat isn't the only type of food to pose a risk, as fruit and vegetables that have been stored incorrectly or grown in inadequate conditions (such as when human faecal matter is used, rather than the correct type of compost) can also cause infection.

5.     What You Should Do If You're Ill On A Cruise

Although you might be unfortunate enough to experience a bit of seasickness on a cruise, if you exhibit a combination of the symptoms listed above, you may have contracted a gastric illness pathogen. Although this can be distressing, there are steps that you should consider taking.

You should report your illness to a member of the crew immediately, requesting to see the ship's doctor. The ship's doctor may be able to provide a diagnosis to you there and then, and in doing so, provide you with the correct treatment, potentially prescribing you with effective medication.

Gastric illnesses are usually diagnosed through a stool sample test, however, if you don't get a diagnosis from the ship's doctor, it's important to get a stool sample from your GP upon returning to the UK. This will provide you with an indication of the pathogen you contracted, and in addition to aiding your treatment, obtaining a diagnosis can act as evidence that may support your compensation claim.

Catching a bug on a cruise is far from ideal, remember that you're on holiday, which means that you're supposed to relax. After you've taken the ship doctor's advice and treatment, try to rest and if appropriate drink plenty of fluids. Regaining as much if your strength as possible puts you in a far better position to enjoy what's left of your holiday

James Comments:

Gastric illnesses contracted on board cruise ships can be particularly distressing as you are often confined to your cabin for a number of days by order of the crew. It is important to gather evidence of poor food hygiene standards by obtaining photographic evidence or through other guests who were ill and who can act as witnesses for you"

Claim Compensation For A Cruise Ship Illness

If you fell ill on a cruise ship holiday and can prove that it was not your fault, then provided you meet the aforementioned mentioned criteria; you could have the grounds for a compensation claim.

If you would like to find out more, get in touch with a member of our travel law team by calling us on our freephone number or simply complete our enquiry form and we will call you back. We can discuss whether you have grounds for a 'no win no fee' compensation claim and what options are available to you to peruse your complaint




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