Legal Action after Illness on Notorious Anthem of the Seas Cruise Ship

Passengers, including young transplant patient and baby, struck down with illness, are forced to return early due to “threat of severe storm”


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The parents of a young transplant patient are taking legal action against their cruise operator, Royal Caribbean, after two members of their family were struck down with gastric illness on board the Anthem of the Seas cruise ship.

Diane and Neil Walton, from Hull had planned the holiday to give them quality time with their children Joseph, nine and Martha, six, before becoming foster carers.

The family boarded the Anthem of the Seas in Bayonne, New Jersey on 21 February 2016 for a 12 night cruise around the Caribbean. The ship has hit the headlines recently after being forced to abandon voyages due to illness and severe storms.

The Walton family has now instructed International Personal Injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the problems they faced and they have told their legal team that the medical assistance given to them was poor. They reported that Joseph, a liver transplant recipient, was left vomiting in the medical centre while a member of the medical team staff was attending another passenger over the telephone, leaving Diane, who was also ill, no option but to clean up after him until help arrived.

Diane, 51, said she and Joseph were forced to walk from their cabin through the ship to the medical centre several times despite both suffering with vomiting and diarrhoea. She was also aware of many other passengers who suffered with illness including a baby. Diane said that she saw passengers at the medical centre who were waiting to see the nurse or a doctor.

“The staff just refused to see us in the cabin, even though we asked them to come to us as we were so unwell” she said. “It didn’t make sense given the symptoms we suffered and surely we could risk spreading the illness to other passengers by walking through the ship.”

“We told them that Joseph has a weakened immune system because of his liver transplant and they just didn’t react as expected despite the increased risk for someone in that position. It’s upsetting as a parent to see your child in distress anyway, but to see him put at greater risk was horrifying.”

“I was really worried about Joseph. This was the worst holiday we’ve ever had.”

Diane said that it took around a day after the onset of their symptoms before the medical staff finally confined them to their cabin, and she reported that the cabin was not properly sanitised during their illness.

The family also said that it was only as they were packing to disembark the ship that a clean-up team arrived to thoroughly clean and fumigate their room.

Neil, 56, said he and Diane became concerned about standards on board the ship when seafood served in the ship’s restaurant was served lukewarm and other food appeared to be recycled from previous meals.

“We’d see fried potatoes served up at breakfast and then the leftovers seemed to appear at dinner,” he said. “It wasn’t very appetising. Glasses were sometimes dirty and on one occasion mine had a lipstick stain on it.”

Expert Opinion
“What was supposed to be a relaxing and exciting break away for the Walton’s turned into a distressing ordeal from which Joseph in particular is still recovering.”

“If it is not already underway, it is important that issues such as those experienced by this family are fully investigated so that cruise operators can learn from these problems, and ensure that they have the appropriate procedures in place to cope with them and look after their passengers. It is vital that staff are adhering to the strict health and hygiene procedures, as well as safety guidance, to prevent the spread of illness and ensure passengers are safe from any harm.”

“There are important lessons to be learnt here, which might reduce the likelihood of repeat occurrences. We are keen to hear from anyone else affected by the outbreak of illness on board the cruise ship who may be able to help us with our enquiries.”
Jennifer Mullins, Solicitor