Cruise illness outbreak gives rise to more concerns

Cruise illness outbreak

12.06.2006

Suki Chhokar a travel litigation specialist at national law firm Irwin Mitchell has expressed concern over the number of instances of cruise illness outbreaks. The latest being an outbreak of illness on board the Black Prince over a 100 passengers have been struck down with vomiting and diarrhoea. The ship which is expected to arrive back in Scotland on the 10th of June is now being deep cleaned.

The Black Prince is the third in the space of three weeks to have encountered such episodes of illness. Irwin Mitchell represents a number of clients who travelled on board the Sea Princess where a similar outbreak of illness occurred and where passengers holidays were ruined as a result.

There were also a number of passengers who travelled on an earlier cruise on board the Black Prince between 27th May 2006 and 3rd June 2006 who also reported symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting.

Suki Chhokar called for stricter hygiene measures on board passenger cruise ships as the firm reported a recent rise in the number of people it has represented who have been affected by outbreaks of viruses on these types of holidays. Mr Chhokar said "The recent incidents of serious viral outbreaks on board various cruise ships could be avoided if tour operators implemented better procedures to manage such outbreaks.

"This is the second incident where a cruise ship has docked and sailed on the same day after episodes of illness on the previous cruise. The crew are left with little time to properly cleanse the ship before it set sails again."

A similar outbreak occurred on board the Sea Princess where there was only a 4 hour period between the ship docking and new passengers boarding. In this instance over 200 passengers reported symptoms of gastric illness.

However Mr Chhokar says "As these illnesses can cause long term health problems it is not enough to say that because people are in confined areas they are going to be susceptible to these types of bugs. Instead the ships operators should be looking at ways of preventing the spread of such illnesses. Increased hygiene measures are needed in areas such as the toilets and restaurants and passengers should be warned if there has been an outbreak of illness on the previous cruise. Passengers need to be given a greater level of health advice. Vessels need to be cleaned thoroughly before they set sail again and this may mean that it is necessary to increase the time that these ships are in port between each cruise."

Mr Woodcock who's son became ill with the norovirus on the Sea Princess states "We were extremely disappointed with the apparent specially trained staff sent to sanitise our room, no surfaces were wiped, just sprayed quickly and then left, we are also aware that there was only a 4 hour turn around period between the previous cruise and ours, which in my opinion is evidence that the ship could not have been cleaned thoroughly before our departure."

Mr Chhokar concluded "Whilst episodes of viral illness are not uncommon on board cruise ships stricter hygiene measures are called for to prevent the spread of infection and the cruise ship operators need to place a greater emphasis on passenger safety. Passengers often spend a lot of money on these holidays and those passengers who have been affected may be able to apply for compensation."

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