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Holiday Sickness Claims & Illness Compensation

Cruise Illness Claims

For many people, a cruise is the holiday of a lifetime. Cruise ship operators have a duty of care to their passengers and should protect them from harm, so if you've become ill while on a cruise then our lawyers could  help you claim compensation.

With so many passengers in a confined space, cruise ship operators have a duty to follow clearly set out procedures to both minimise the risk of an illness outbreak, and to contain it if one occurs.

Illnesses such as food poisoning are unfortunately quite common on cruise ships, and we've helped thousands of passengers make cruise ship illness claims for:

  • Norovirus
  • Salmonella
  • E-Coli
  • Campylobacter
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Viral Gastroenteritis

However, compensation claims for cruise illnesses are by no means limited to gastric conditions – Legionnaires’ disease, a lung condition caused by bacteria in poorly-maintained water systems, is also a risk if cruise operators aren't following the proper health and safety practices.

If you've suffered an illness that you think was caused by negligence on the part of the crew or operator of a cruise ship, our lawyers could  help you claim compensation. We have a proven track record in cruise ship illness claims, including high-profile cases such as the Thomson Dream gastric illness case, and the MS Sundream Norovirus outbreak.

Most of the international personal injury claims we handle are made in England & Wales. But in some cases it may be beneficial to make your claim abroad. We can advise you on this in a free initial consultation about making a claim.

Compensation claims in England & Wales are normally funded through a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that there's nothing to pay upfront, and that you won’t have to pay any legal fees if your claim is unsuccessful*.

Call us today on 0800 056 4110 for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case, or contact us online and we’ll get back to you.

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Over £100 million claimed for overseas accidents and illnesses
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Cruise Illness Claims - More Information
    • What Happens When I Make A Claim?
    • To make a compensation claim for an accident or illness abroad, the first thing you need to do is get in touch with us for a free initial consultation. We'll discuss the circumstances surrounding your accident or illness, advise you on whether or not we think you can claim, and whether you could benefit from a No Win No Fee arrangement.

      If you choose to go ahead, your claim will usually go through the following four stages:

      1. Investigation. We'll establish who's responsible for your accident or illness, and arrange for a medical examination to find out the full extent of your condition.
      2. Rehabilitation. If you have any medical care or support needs, we'll help you to access the necessary treatment and advice that you are entitled to.
      3. Compensation. We'll work out how much compensation you should get based on the severity of your injuries and your pain and suffering, any medical expenses you've had, and your ability to get back to work. We'll put this amount to those responsible, and they can either accept blame or contest the claim.
      4. Conclusion. If your opponent accepts blame, you'll be awarded compensation. If not, the case will be settled in court – although this is rare. If you do have to go to court, we'll be there support you every step of the way. If we agreed to handle your claim under a No Win No Fee arrangement, then you won't have to pay anything if you were unsuccessful.

      If you have any questions about the claims process, please contact us today on 0800 056 4110 and we'll be happy to discuss your options in a free initial consultation.

    • Can I Make A No Win No Fee Claim?
    • Many of our cases are funded with a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that there’s no financial risk to you when making a compensation claim.

      At the start of your case, we'll discuss funding options with you, advising you which we think is most suitable. If you have legal expenses insurance (LEI) or are covered by a trade union policy, these may be best for you. Legal expenses insurance is included in many household, travel or car insurance policies, so it’s always worth checking whether you’re already covered.

      If we think you're best supported by a No Win No Fee agreement, we'll explain the process clearly. You'll only have to pay anything if your claim is successful – even then your opponent will pay most of our fees, with the remaining costs coming out of your compensation settlement.

      Please visit our No Win No Fee page for more information on how it works.

    • How Long Do I Have To Make A Claim?
    • In the UK, you usually need to make a compensation claim within three years of your accident or illness.

      In fatal cases, the family of the deceased has three years to make a claim, starting from either the date your loved one died, or the date you received the post-mortem results.

      However, these time limits vary a great deal from country to country and are much shorter in some countries, so when an accident or illness has taken place abroad, it's vital that you contact us as soon as possible. We are experts in international law, and have a worldwide network of partner law firms that we work with, so we'll be able to advise you on specific time limits. Contact us today on 0800 056 4110 for a free consultation on your case, and we'll be happy to help.

    • Can I Claim In The UK?
    • Even if your accident or illness occurred abroad, you can often make a claim here in the UK, though this will vary depending on your circumstances. For example, if you suffered an accident or illness while staying in a hotel as part of a package holiday, you should be able to make a claim against the tour operator here in the UK.

      You can also usually claim in the UK if you’re claiming against an individual insurer or employer that is based in the UK, or a business or insurer based in the EU. The law around compensation is different in each country, so we will consider where it would be best to make your claim in order to get the best possible result for you.

      If you do have to make a claim abroad, there’s nothing to worry about as we have years of experience in helping clients to claim in more than 80 countries around the world. We work with an international network of law firms to represent and support our clients and their families when they need to claim, no matter which country the accident or illness occurred in. Most claims are settled out of court, so it’s unlikely that you will need to travel abroad for a court case. If this is necessary in your case, we will support you every step of the way.

      If you have any questions or concerns about making a claim abroad, contact us on 0800 056 4110 for a free consultation. We'll be able to advise you on your options, and talk you through the process.

I am relieved that our legal battle is finally over. Our holiday was a nightmare and we were so disappointed. We’re glad Irwin Mitchell has managed to achieve a successful outcome for us”

David, client

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Can Claim Compensation For A Cruise Ship Illness?

If you became ill, or if a loved one has died, as a result of an illness that was caused by negligence on the part of the captain, staff or cruise operator, then you may be able to claim compensation. 

There are well-established procedures to prevent and minimise the spread of an illness on board cruise ships, so you may be able to claim compensation for a cruise illness if:

  • You consumed contaminated food or drink on board
  • You were not properly warned of the risk of illness before you boarded
  • There was a failure to take reasonable steps to contain a known illness outbreak

If you have any questions about how to claim, or have any concerns about whether or not you have a case, call us today on 0800 056 4110 for a free consultation. We'll discuss your claim, and offer our advice on your options.

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What Are The Common Types Of Cruise Ship Illnesses?

By far the most common illness on a cruise ship is norovirus followed by some form of food poisoning. Food poisoning is a collective name for a number of different conditions caused by contaminated food or drink, usually caused by undercooked or incorrectly stored food, as well as poor hygiene standards.

This is a particular risk on cruise ships because a large amount of food must be prepared for hundreds of people, and often sits out in buffet-style meals, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for contamination. Strict guidelines are in place to ensure the health and safety of passengers on board, but all too often these aren't met, resulting in outbreaks of illnesses such as:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Campylobacter
  • Salmonella
  • E-coli
  • Shigella
  • Listeria
  • Norovirus 
  • Giardia
  • Cryptosporidium

This is not an exhaustive list of conditions and symptoms are often very similar, with diarrhoea and vomiting being the main effects. Viruses and bacteria can also be transmitted from person to person, so there are also procedures that staff on board need to follow to stop outbreaks from spreading. Find out more about food poisoning, and the responsibilities that cruise operators and ships' crews have to prevent it.

However, gastric conditions like food poisoning aren't the only thing that passengers are at risk from if best health and safety practice isn't followed. Any hot and cold water system also needs to be managed carefully to avoid bacteria developing.

Legionella is a bacteria that can grow in water systems that aren't kept at the right temperature. The bacteria causes Legionnaires' disease, a form of pneumonia that can be fatal. Find out more about claiming compensation for Legionnaires' disease.

If you've become ill on a cruise ship and believe your illness was caused by negligence on the part of the crew or cruise operator, you may have a case. Contact us on 0800 056 4110 for a free consultation where we'll discuss your condition, and whether we think you can claim.

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Why Choose Irwin Mitchell For A Cruise Ship Illness Claim?

Claiming compensation can be a daunting prospect, and it always helps to have the experts on your side. We're the leading UK law firm for claims following an illness aboard a cruise ship, and we always aim to make the claims process as simple as possible for our clients, offering support and advice in plain English, without any legal jargon.

Our track record in cruise ship illness claims includes a number of high-profile cases, including:

  • Thomson Dream. We successfully represented a number of passengers who suffered gastric illnesses on board the Thomson Dream cruise ship in 2010 and 2011. We are also currently representing a number of passengers following cruises on the Thomson Dream in both 2013 and 2014.
  • Fred Olsen Boudicca. Our team secured a six-figure settlement for 130 passengers on a number of different cruises on the Boudicca cruise liner. In particular we represented 16 clients who contracted Norovirus on-board the Boudicca vessel, between March and April 2011.  Liability was denied and the case went all the way to the Court of Appeal where our legal team were successful in obtaining damages for our clients.
  • MS Sundream. An outbreak of Norovirus on board this ship left several clients with long-term illnesses, including chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome. Our lawyers secured over £250,000 for 58 passengers.
  • SS Ausonia. We recovered more than £250,000 after a number of passengers were diagnosed with Salmonella food poisoning following their cruise.

We have the largest team of international personal injury lawyers in the UK, working solely on claims relating to accidents and illnesses abroad, and also work with an international network of partner law firms to support claims that need to be made outside of the UK.

We aim to support you through the entire claims process with sensitivity and understanding, putting the interests of you and your family first at every turn. To find out more about how to make a claim, and how we can help, call us today on 0800 056 4110 for a free initial consultation about your claim.

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Our International Expertise


Our lawyers are recognised as leaders in the field of international personal injury claims, and we bring this expertise to your claim. Members of our team regularly lecture internationally, are consulted on law reform issues, and hold key positions in several leading international organisations, including:

  • The Pan-European Organisation of Personal Injury Lawyers
  • Travel and Tourism Lawyers Association
  • The American Association for Justice.

We also have a long history of campaigning for improvements in health and safety. Our aim is always to improve the quality of life and levels of compensation for those who have suffered illness or been involved in an accident on holiday.

Our Offices

Our offices are located in major cities throughout the UK and have excellent transport links.

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To begin your claim for compensation, or ask any questions regarding personal injury claims, contact us today for a free consultation.

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