Cruise Ship Accident and Illness Claims

For free legal advice call our Holiday Accident Claims Solicitors and we will help you. Ask if we can deal with your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.


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If you have an accident or become ill on a cruise ship, it can be especially stressful because you can’t get to a hospital straight away. Even though cruise ship carriers do have a duty of care to their passengers, and should do all they can to protect them from injury and illness, they can and do still happen.

If you were injured in an accident on a cruise ship holiday that wasn’t your fault, or you became ill because of a virus outbreak or poor food hygiene, preparation or storage, you could have grounds for a successful compensation claim.

Get in touch with our Holiday Claims Solicitors for a free legal advice and to discuss your case. We may be able to handle your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis - ask us for details.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

How Simpson Millar Can Help You

One of our experienced Holiday Claims Solicitors can give you free legal advice on your potential cruise ship claim. Some of our Solicitors and Lawyers have worked in the travel industry for a number of years and will use that added expertise in your claim. Because we’re the Open Lawyers, we’ll always take an honest and transparent approach with you. This means no legal jargon, and no hidden costs or surprises.

We’ve successfully helped many holidaymakers claim compensation for an accident or sickness on a holiday cruise.

Examples of Cruise Ship Accidents

Cruise ship accidents can happen when you’re embarking or disembarking the ship, or they can happen while you’re at sea. Common accidents include:

  • Slips on deck
  • Tripping over obstacles
  • Falling down stairs
  • Being hit by falling or unsecured objects
  • Accidents in or near swimming pools, hot tubs or wave rider surf simulators

If you think the accident could have been avoided and happened because of the negligence of the cruise ship operator, you may be entitled to compensation. A Holiday Claims Solicitor can advise you on this.

What to Do after a Cruise Ship Accident

  1. If you’re injured, you should get medical attention straight away. All cruise ships should have facilities to treat personal injuries among passengers, and the cruise ship doctor can give you written details of their diagnosis and a prescription if you ask for
  2. Report your accident to a senior member of staff, and if necessary, the cruise ship carrier’s head office. Make sure you get a copy of any accident report that is written about your accident.
  3. Gather as much evidence as you can so you can prove what caused your accident including photographs of your injuries and the place where the accident happened. You could also request a copy of video or CCTV footage if there is any.
  4. Ask other passengers if any of them witnessed the accident and take their names and contact details if they agree. They could form an important part of the evidence if you make a holiday accident claim.
  5. Finally, don’t forget to keep records of any financial losses, such as receipts for hospital bills, travel expenses and medical fees. Also keep details once you get home of any time you’ve had to take off work because of your injuries.

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Examples of Cruise Ship Illness

Many cruise ship illnesses are caused by neglect on the part of the cruise ship operator, usually in relation to a virus or the preparation or storage of food, or from poor hygiene which leads to the spread of infection.

Examples of gastric illness pathogens and infections which can break out on cruise ships include:

  • Cyclospora - A parasite which attaches itself to fruit and vegetables that have been contaminated with human faecal matter
  • Cryptosporidium - A parasite that can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, cramping and other related symptoms
  • Dysentery (Shigella Sonnei) - An infection usually passed on through poor hygiene. It can cause very severe diarrhoea. The main types of Dysentery are Bacillary Dysentery and Amoebic Dysentery
  • E-coli - A waterborne bacteria that can cause stomach cramps, diarrhoea (potentially containing blood), gas, bloating, nausea and fatigue
  • Legionnaires Disease - Legionnaires disease is also known as Legionellosis, is a form of atypical pneumonia caused by any type of Legionella bacteria
  • Salmonella - A type of bacteria that’s commonly associated with food poisoning. Symptoms usually include diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach cramps
  • Shigella - A bacterial infection that can lead to many unpleasant symptoms, from fever and bloody diarrhoea to inflammation of the intestines
  • Shigellosis - An infection caused by Shigella bacteria. Symptoms can include diarrhoea, fever and stomach cramps. In many cases, Shigellosis can resolve in less than seven days

Some of these illnesses can be caught by consuming contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.

While many people believe meat is the only type of food to pose a risk, this isn’t actually the case. Fruit and vegetables that have been stored incorrectly or grown in inadequate conditions, such as when human faecal matter is used instead of the correct type of compost, can also cause infection.

What to Do If You're Ill on a Cruise Ship

While it’s not uncommon to experience some mild seasickness on a cruise, if you experience any of the above symptoms, you may be suffering from food poisoning or have contracted a gastric illness pathogen.

  1. If you think this is the case, the first thing you should do is report your illness to a member of the crew and ask to see the ship's doctor. The doctor may diagnose you there and then and give you the correct treatment by prescribing effective medication.
  2. But if it’s a gastric illness, this is usually diagnosed through a stool sample test. If you don't get a diagnosis from the cruise ship doctor, it's important to get a stool sample to your GP as soon as you get back to the UK. Once tested this should give an indication of the pathogen you contracted.
  3. As well as making sure you get the right treatment, a diagnosis is evidence that can be beneficial when you make a holiday sickness claim.
  4. After you've taken the ship’s doctor's advice and treatment, try to rest and, if appropriate, drink plenty of fluids. Regaining as much of your strength as possible puts you in a far better position to enjoy what's left of your holiday.
  5. Gather some evidence including photographs or testimonies and contact details of other passengers who could act as witnesses for you or had similar experiences themselves during the cruise.

Can I Make a Claim?

Cruise liners are bound by the Athens Convention which states that any sea ferrying vessel is liable for the safety of their passengers. Under the convention, the operator is liable for any damage or loss incurred by a passenger, or to their luggage during any time of the voyage.

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

How Long do I Have to Make a Claim?

If the Athens Convention applies to your case, you have 2 years to make a claim from the date you disembarked the cruise ship at the end of your holiday or when you were moved from the cruise ship to be hospitalised.

If your claim isn’t taken to the Admiralty Division of the High Court within this period, it will be time-barred. That means you can’t make a claim.

Under the Athens Convention, you can claim compensation for an injury or illness from your country of residence, providing you booked the cruise there, regardless of where the cruise ship was at the time you became ill.

So if you booked your cruise ship holiday in the UK, sailed from Spain and became ill whilst at sea near Morocco, you could still make a claim through a British Holiday Claims Solicitor in a UK Court.

Funding Your Claim

Having an accident or getting sick on a cruise can be very upsetting, especially if it spoils part or all of your trip.

Our Holiday Claims Solicitors have dealt with many cruise ship compensation claims. We’ll work flexibly with you to help you get the compensation you’re entitled to.

We often work on a No Win, No Fee basis, so ask us for details when you get in touch.   

Examples of people we have helped

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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Southport.