Holland America Reports Outbreak of Gastrointestinal Illness

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Holland America’s Veendam vessel has reported that several passengers fell ill with a gastrointestinal disease similar to the Norovirus, but that the situation has been contained and those who became sick are recovering.

The Veendam began its voyage in Montreal, with stops in Quebec City and Charlottetown, before anchoring in Sydney. While in Sydney Harbour Wednesday, the cruise ship’s authorities reported that as many as 21 passengers and crew fell ill over the past few days, but as of Wednesday night, the number of individuals who were sick was down to five.

Holland America spokesman, Erik Elvejord, confirmed that the passengers and crew were stricken with a gastrointestinal illness and explained the line has dealt with similar cruise ship sicknesses in the past and successfully contained the spread of the virus.

“Normally when we see this sort of thing, you can see a pattern and things have sort of flattened out on us and we haven’t had too many cases in the last day and a half, which is a good sign,” Elvejord said.” That just means the efforts and folks on board are washing their hands and being extra careful and it helps for everybody on board.”

While in Sydney, passengers were able to go to shore and explore, but special precautions were taken aboard the vessel to make sure the disease did not spread any further. The Veendam carries 1,350 passengers and 580 crew members, so a gastrointestinal virus can spread very quickly without much warning for cruise officials to prepare.

The Cape Breton District Health Authority mollified concerns, saying it is not concerned about illness, while spokesman Greg Boone added that those who were ill were confined to their rooms and would not disembark in Sydney.

The vessel is scheduled to arrive in Halifax today. Health Canada spokeswoman, Lisa Gillis, assures the situation is being monitored and explained the incident is not being classified as an outbreak because less than three per cent of the people onboard the vessel became ill.
Holland America encourages those onboard to wash their hands frequently in order to keep the illness from spreading further.

Illnesses like this one can spread quickly aboard a cruise ship if the proper procedures are not taken to contain it. From the information reported by Holland America, it appears crewmembers were successful at containing the virus and those affected are quickly healing. However, while this particular incident was contained, there are numerous times in which viruses spread aboard cruise vessels due to lack of sanitation among cruise ship personnel. It is the responsibility of the cruise line to ensure that workers wash their hands constantly and handle food carefully to avoid any contamination.

If you or someone you know has fallen ill due to negligence aboard a cruise ship, you may be entitled to obtain damages, including reimbursement for any medical costs or for the cruise vacation itself. Our cruise accident lawyers have over 165 years of combined experience in recovering compensation for those affected by negligent cruise personnel and will see to it that you obtain the maximum benefits possible for your individual case. Call us today to see how we can help protect your rights.