Court Victory Secures Settlement For Boudicca Cruise Ship Passengers Hit By Gastric Illness

16 Passengers Secure Victory At Court From Cruises Aboard The Boudicca Cruise Ship In 2011


A judge has ruled that a group of passengers, whose cruises on board the Boudicca cruise ship were ruined by gastric illness problems, are to receive a five-figure settlement.

This judgment occurs as the Boudicca is reported to have been hit by a fire in its engine room over the weekend causing the ship to be without engine power for about five hours whilst passengers were aboard. 

At a trial at Birmingham County Court, His Honour Judge Owen QC ruled that the passengers had proven that there were failings on board the ship which caused 12 out of 16 holidaymakers to become ill. He also concluded that such failings contributed to the loss of enjoyment of all their holidays.

The decision was met with relief by the group, ending a three year fight for justice against Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Limited, which had repeatedly denied it was responsible for the problems which affected passengers who travelled on board the cruise ship between March to April 2011. 

The 16 holidaymakers instructed specialist travel lawyers at Irwin Mitchell after their voyages on the ship in 2011 were ruined after the majority of them suffered gastric illness symptoms, including symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting and severe stomach cramps. 

Over a four year period between 2009 and 2013 Irwin Mitchell has now represented more than 200 passengers affected by similar illness problems on board Fred Olsen’s Boudicca cruise ship. 

As well as securing a settlement of £280,000 for passengers on-board the Boudicca cruise ship in 2009 and 2010, Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Travel Law team are continuing to fight for justice on behalf of passengers who also suffered illness on-board the cruise ship in 2012 and on behalf of passengers following six cruises in 2013 where liability is denied.   Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Limited admitted liability subject to causation of illness in respect of claims by passengers in respect of a cruise which took place between 13-27th March 2013.

Many of the passengers included in the successful group legal action following cruises in 2011 were seen by the ship’s medical staff and some were confined to their cabins. Passengers told lawyers that they were concerned about hygiene procedures on board the ship which included inadequate cleaning of public areas and their cabins. 

There were also complaints amongst some of the passengers that despite the illness outbreak, they were not told before boarding of the problems on board.

Experts who gave evidence on behalf of the passengers at the Trial criticised the implementation of the onboard outbreak of illness plan and said that the Defendant, whilst having a comprehensive and detailed plan to deal with an outbreak of illness on board the ship, failed to implement their procedures effectively to prevent the spread of the illness. 

Judge Owen QC found that the fact that there had been repeated outbreaks of illness and incidents of the ship’s crew not complying with the tour operator’s plan that they should have known that there was a problem.  The Judge also concluded that Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Limited outbreak plan had been unsatisfactorily implemented. 

Clare Comiskey, a specialist International Personal Injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who represents the group, said: “This court victory will finally give the passengers who suffered illness during and after trips on the Boudicca cruise ship in 2011 a sense of justice. They booked their trips expecting a relaxing cruise but instead ended up suffering illness often confining them to their cabins for days. It is a shame that Fred Olsen has dragged the case all the way to trial at court but we are delighted that the judge has ruled in our clients’ favour and that our clients will now receive a compensation from Fred Olsen after enduring such terrible times on board the Boudicca.

“There are strict procedures in place in order to prevent the spread of illness on board cruise ships, which include the need for ships to be subject to an extensive deep cleaning process following reports of problems.

It is deeply frustrating that the cruise operator has failed in its duties to its own clients by not implementing its own outbreak of illness plan, particularly when they should have been aware of passengers falling ill on repeated cruises and it is testament to all of our clients in this case that they have been persistent in their pursuit of justice.

“Whilst nothing can ever fully make up for the suffering they endured during the cruise, this is a great result for our clients and I am very pleased to see that the Court has fully recognised the need for cruise lines to take appropriate steps to prevent passengers from contracting illness. 

“We hope that this outcome will allow our clients to look to the future and put the terrible problems they faced behind them.” 

Among the passengers that Irwin Mitchell represented is Diane West from Reading in Berkshire, whose cruise was ruined after her husband fell seriously ill on board the ship in March 2011and who had to spend the last few days of the cruise confined to the cabin.

Diane, 70, said: “I am relieved that our legal battle is finally over. Our cruise was a nightmare and I just wanted justice for what happened. Raymond was suffering terribly with diarrhoea and vomiting. We had to see the doctor on board who prescribed some medication for him to try and settle his stomach but it ruined our trip.

“I was concerned about the hygiene standards on board the ship, in particular the staff’s efficiency of cleaning on board, especially our cabin. The staff didn’t seem to pay much attention to the bathroom and I did not think they had cleaned it properly.”

Another couple who travelled on board the Boudicca cruise ship in March and April 2011 were Eric and Margaret Swift from Halesowen in the West Midlands. Eric, 78, fell ill with diarrhoea and sickness just days into their two-week cruise and as his wife suffered from Dementia they had to stay in the cabin until his symptoms settled.

Eric recalled: “We were looking forward to a nice relaxing break but instead we were stuck in our cabin for days on end whilst I was feeling unwell. I was still ill when I got home for about a week. The last thing you expect when going on a relaxing holiday is to come back with a horrible illness. That’s why I sought legal action to ensure there was some accountability for what happened. I am therefore delighted at the Judge’s decision.  I can now put this ordeal behind me.”