Spotlight on cruise ship compensation claims after Titanic trip guest falls ill


The recent illness on the Titanic memorial cruise has highlighted what can go wrong on a sea trip thousands of miles from home with only the medical resources of the ship immediately available.

Illness on a Cruise Ship

The cruise on the liner Balmoral, which is tracing the Atlantic route taken by the Titanic in 1912, was interrupted when a passenger became ill.

As a precaution, the ship detoured towards the Irish coast to allow a helicopter to airlift the passenger, BBC cameraman Tim Rex, to dry land.

A BBC spokesman said: "Unfortunately a BBC staff member was taken seriously ill while covering the cruise to the site of the Titanic. Following advice from the ship's doctors he has been taken ashore to receive urgent medical treatment."

The cameraman's plight, along with the recent disastrous capsizing of the Costa Concordia, provides a timely reminder of what can happen – and what to do – if you suffer an illness or an accident during a cruise.

Of course, there is no evidence that any compensation claim is relevant in Mr Rex's case. But it is worth a reminder that holiday claims at sea are governed by very different legal mechanisms to those at home, or even at a hotel or a resort.

If a passenger suffers an accident or an illness during a cruise holiday, operators include terms in their holiday contracts which allow them to rely on the Athens Convention.

The Convention states that a carrier is liable for damage or loss suffered by a passenger if the incident which caused it occurred during the trip and was the carrier's fault. However, the Convention goes on to say that the carrier's liability can be limited if it provenly acted with intent to cause damage.

International carriage by sea is defined by the Convention as when the departure and destination points are different, or where they are the same but also with a port of call in a different country.

For example, the Convention would apply to a cruise departed from Spain and disembarked in England, or where the cruise departed from Spain with a port of call in Italy and disembarked back in Spain.

Clearly this is a complex area of law. There are other rules that you should also consider, for issues such as in which country you should make your claim, applicable time limits and how the Athens Convention differs from the Package Travel Regulations 1992, which state that it is up to the passenger to prove the carrier was at fault.

For a wider overview, please visit our cruise ship claims page. And remember, our Cruise Accident Solicitors have proven success with compensation claims involving holidaymakers and passengers who suffer accidents aboard cruise ships.

Please call us on 0808 145 1353 or email us using our online form.

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