There are times in which a cruise accident lawyer is needed in order to put their expertise to use following an injury or crime at sea. At Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we have represented many passengers and crewmembers who have been hurt due to the negligence of a cruise line employee, a passenger, equipment failure, a shore side operator, a criminal act such as an assault, or the befalling of an illness while cruising. This year, like others in the past, there have been several incidents of Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships. Although Norovirus is a common stomach illness, on a cruise ship the infection spreads rapidly to multiple travelers because of their confined spaces, one group aboard a luxury liner has taken the virus very seriously.
Passengers aboard P&O’s Oriana were threatening a mutiny last night after more than 150 people were hit by the stomach bug. While Norovirus is not usually a life-threatening illness, its symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, can ruin a cruise vacation. Since the virus is very contagious (spreading from person-to-person via contact or through contaminated food), sometimes passengers and crewmembers have to be quarantined, which is what occurred aboard the Oriana.
According to passengers, crewmembers taped off areas of the vessel “like a crime scene” and complained that the liner “smelt of sick.” At least 150 people reported feeling Norovirus symptoms, but other travelers said the figure is closer to 300. Passengers were also outraged because they claim the ship’s captain ignored their plight and blamed them for bringing the virus onboard the ship. Although passengers are clearly upset, P&O issued a statement last night, insisting that only nine cases of Norovirus had been confirmed. Some of the passengers said they plan to confront crewmembers before the ship docks at Southampton tomorrow.
One passenger, retired fireman Dave Stringer, 57, was upset over what he had to pay to feel better onboard. He claims he was charged £55 for an injection to ease his symptoms. He also noted that a possible riot was in the works.
“There might be a riot because the captain and crew just refuse to listen,” he said. “We’ll refuse to disembark unless we get some answers. This hasn’t been a holiday — it’s been a cruise to Hell.”
Another British passenger spoke up about the incident, saying: “It is a scandal — misery on the high seas.”
The Oriana set sail on December 4 for a tour of Zeebrugge, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and Hamburg. But just a few hours after the vessel hit the high seas, the Norovirus outbreak swept through the ship. Some of the travelers said the virus had hit the ship’s previous cruise and crewmembers that had fallen ill were still contagious by the time the new group of cruise goers boarded the vessel.
Meanwhile, P&O officials have not shown any concern over the matter. A spokesman for the liner said: “Enhanced sanitation protocols have already been implemented.”
Photo Credit: simplonpc.co.uk