A third outbreak aboard the cruise ship Van Gogh has been reported. This is the third outbreak of Norovirus aboard the cruise ship in the last month and has led leading travel lawyers to question whether the correct precautions are being taken to prevent the highly contagious virus affecting holiday makers. This latest outbreak also comes in the same month that two other cruise ships, the Sea Princess and the Black Prince, suffered similar outbreaks.
Several passengers have reported an outbreak of sickness and diarrhoea aboard the Van Gogh, after it docked in Harwich yesterday.
One of the passengers Sheila Palmer from Windsor, Berkshire said "The ship should never have been allowed to sail. They delayed the departure for 3 hours to clean it following a previous outbreak and in my opinion this is not nearly long enough. They were well aware that there was considerable illness on board at least 200 passengers on the previous cruise which docked on the 9th June were ill. Several of the people affected on the cruise I went on were given fluids via a drip. As we arrived back into the port yesterday there were ambulances and paramedics waiting for us.
"The staff did their best, but some of them were ill . There would seem to be something seriously wrong with the hygiene. I am still ill and have had to consult my GP and my partner is also ill and not at work. As we are infectious for 7 - 10 days we have had to cancel two family occasions. It was distressing to see so many people that I had befriended on the cruise becoming ill."
Expert Norovirus compensation lawyer comments
Viruses such as the Norovirus, or winter vomiting bug spread quickly and easily when many people are within a confined environment. Leading travel lawyer Suki Chhokar from law firm Irwin Mitchell said "It is not good enough to say that because people in confined areas are going to be susceptible to these types of bugs. What must happen is that the increased risks, associated with confinement, must be met with the strictest safeguards to prevent peoples holidays from being ruined. He continued These holidays are not cheap, and people will often be looking forward to these trips for many months."
Mr Chhokar called for slower turn around times whilst in port to allow for the boats to be thoroughly cleaned before taking on new passengers, and more routine cleaning during the voyage. Basic food and water hygiene levels must be in place and regular cleaning of key areas such as the toilets and kitchens is essential. Once an outbreak has been identified health advice must be given to all existing passengers and any new people joining the boat must be warned. After an outbreak the boat must be deeply cleansed and sanitised before any further passengers board.
Mr Chhokar concluded "We realise that is difficult for cruise operators to prevent someone coming on board with the virus. Responsible cruise lines, and travel operators, will have comprehensive procedures in place but these need to be strictly adhered to and implemented across the entire industry."
Norovirus compensation - preparation for your claim
Suki Chhokar recommends the following for people thinking about taking these types of holiday:
- Pay attention to the food preparation, hygiene and sanitation standards onboard the boat.
- Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly at regular intervals
- If you suffer illness seek appropriate medical attention both aboard and when you return home.
- Make the cruise staff aware of any complaint immediately.
- Record all aspects of your complaint
- Exchange contact details with other affected holidaymakers
- Take photographic and video evidence
- Do not accept compensation payments on the spot.
- Do not sign any document which waives your rights
- If you have suffered illness such as Norovirus and wish to seek compensation, consult a solicitor who specialises in travel claims immediately on your return.
Have you got a claim? If we can help you or someone you know with a similar case, please see our Cruise illness page.