Cruise Ship Sickness - How to Claim Compensation

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Updated 08/02/2022

If you got sick on a cruise ship holiday and believe your illness was because the cruise ship operator was negligent, our Holiday Claims Solicitors can help you, starting with free legal advice and a free assessment of your sickness claim.

Cruise ship operators are responsible for keeping passengers safe from illness, so they must take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of any sickness outbreak, such as meeting food hygiene standards.

Our Holiday Claims Solicitors are experts in travel law, so we can assess the specifics of your claim and determine if you have a good chance of being awarded compensation. We can answer your questions during a free consultation, and we may be able to manage your case on a No Win, No Fee basis – ask us for details.

For free legal advice get in touch with our Holiday Claims Solicitors.

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What to Do if You Get Sick on a Cruise Ship

If you start suffering symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps, nausea and fatigue, it may be because you’ve contracted a gastric illness pathogen, or developed food poisoning.

You should speak to a member of the crew straight away and arrange to be examined by the on-board doctor. They should be able to diagnose your condition and prescribe the right course of treatment.

However, if the cruise ship doctor can’t diagnose you, it’s important to see your GP straight away upon returning home. They’ll be able to collect a stool sample, which will hopefully identify the pathogen you contracted and diagnose which gastric illness you’ve developed. That in turn means you’ll receive the correct treatment for your condition.

It may be at this point that you start thinking of making a claim against the cruise ship operator, in which case you should start compiling evidence of hygiene failings on-board the vessel, such as photographs, videos and contact details of other people who have fallen ill who could potentially support your claim.

Our Holiday Claims Solicitors often take on group legal action claims involving groups of passengers and families who’ve been struck with illness during their cruise, so it’s worth finding out if other passengers or crew have been hit by similar symptoms before you disembark the ship.

Norovirus on Cruise Ships

When a norovirus outbreak occurred on Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas in 2019, media reports dubbed norovirus as the “cruise ship illness”, after over 250 passengers and crew were struck down by norovirus while cruising in the Caribbean Sea.

The media has also reported that on a Holland America Line cruise ship, passengers were not allowed to serve themselves from the buffet for two days after the passengers boarded; to prevent a norovirus outbreak.

P&O Cruises are reported to offer advice about norovirus on their in-cabin TV channels.

Several cruise lines are believed to have prohibited shaking hands with the captain and officers at the captain’s welcome party.

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How Simpson Millar Can Help You

If we take on your case, we’ll investigate the circumstances surrounding your cruise ship sickness in detail. This will include obtaining copies of any evidence you may have gathered that could be relevant to the claim, such as photographs, video footage, written correspondence, documents and receipts.

These can help us piece together a detailed picture of how you became ill and the impact it has had on you. As part of this investigation, we’ll arrange a medical examination for you, so we can have an objective third-party report on your medical condition, prognosis and any long-term care needs you may have.

This evidence will help us calculate a fair amount of compensation we feel you’re entitled to.

If you have specific care and rehabilitation requirements, we can arrange these for you, so you can access the rehabilitation support you need as soon as possible. The cost of these will also be included in our valuation of your claim, along with factors including loss of past and future earnings or income, and out-of-pocket expenses.

When all the details of your case are ready, we’ll approach the cruise ship operator and/or their insurers with your claim, and it may be that they’ll accept partial or full liability (fault) straight away. If this happens, you’ll be awarded a compensation package without the need to go to Court.

However, if they don’t admit responsibility and the case does have to go to Court, we will assist you throughout the Court process.

What the Law Says

Cruise line operators include terms in their holiday contracts which allow them to rely on the Athens Convention if a passenger falls ill during a cruise. This applies if the port of departure and the destination are different, or if the cruise ship has the same departure and destination port; but stops off at a different country along the way.

If your cruise liner departed from a foreign destination without any intermediary ports of call, then you can rely on the Package Travel Regulations 1992 instead, as long as the tour operator is a UK company.

There are strict time limits for making holiday sickness claims. Under the Athens Convention, you have 2 years from the date of your illness, whereas under the Package Travel Regulations, you have 3 years in which to make a holiday sickness claim. Our Holiday Claims Solicitors can advise you on this in more detail.

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