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Holiday Cruises; Sailing into troubled waters

I learned recently that there are over 300 cruise liners operating throughout the world and that’s not surprising when you see the vast array of fabulous cruises now available.  Of course they come at a price and people often save for a long time to enjoy that ‘holiday of a life-time’.  Whilst the vast majority of these are truly wonderful experiences, it is a sad fact that there are regular reports highlighting holidays where passengers are hit by a cruise ship illness outbreak which often confines them to their cabins and effectively ruins their holiday.

Many cruise ships are vast, like floating cities, but this comes with the added difficulty of maintaining a sanitised confined area where the risk of infection spreading is high.  There are numerous examples of passengers being struck down by gastro-intestinal illnesses and food poisoning is one of the most common types on cruise ships.  I’ve also spoken to passengers who contracted salmonella, campylobacter, shigella and the vomiting bug norovirus.  Any of these illnesses can leave us very unwell but when you consider that a very high proportion of these passengers are elderly, the problem can be even more acute.

A common complaint from passengers is that despite their holiday costing thousands of pounds, and an admission of liability by the tour operator, the level of compensation offered was very small – often in the low hundreds.  However there are a number of steps that you can take that will serve you well in any subsequent claim for an appropriate level of compensation.

It may not always be possible, particularly if you’re confined to your cabin for days feeling very unwell, but try to secure the names and addresses of other passengers that may have suffered the same fate.  Write out a chronology of events of what happened to you on your cruise such as when you became ill, how you became ill, where you were, what you had eaten and what advice you were given by the crew or the ship’s doctor.  Even if 200 other passengers have made a complaint, make sure that you lodge your particular grievance with the appropriate member of the crew.  Keep receipts for any additional expense you incur, particularly medical treatment, but make sure that your ‘additional expenses’ are necessary and proportionate.  If you are still unwell on your arrival back home, seek advice from your GP so that your condition can be recorded in your medical records along with any further investigations and treatment.

It is only when you’ve settled back home, and are reflecting on what happened during your cruise, will your thoughts turn to recovering your losses and compensation for your illness or injury.  If you’re unsure about what to do the best advice is to contact a firm of solicitors who have experience in dealing with these types of claim and can offer you professional advice.

Nothing can compensate for the heartache of a ruined holiday but don’t add to your misery by failing to take some simple steps that will help you enormously should you have to seek compensation at a later date.

Harris Fowler has a team of specialist personal injury solicitors who can offer advice to anyone who has suffered an illness or injury whilst on a cruise holiday.  Free and confidential legal advice is available on 0800 213 214 or visit our website

Harris Fowler is a trading name of Harris Fowler Limited and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority no. 558271.