Food poisoning and poor conditions on cruise

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Thomson came into the spotlight over an alleged outbreak of food poisoning and poor hygiene standards on its Platinum cruise ship The Thomson Celebration.

Nine holidaymakers are bringing claims in the High Court against Thomson after being struck down with illness following the cruise over the Christmas/ New Year festivities 2010-2011.

When norovirus or food poisoning take grip on a cruise ship, it can be very difficult to get under control. I was recently instructed to act for a couple who complained that due to an outbreak of norovirus on their cruise ship staff spent 24 hours a day cleaning every visible surface. Fortunately, they got through the cruise without falling ill but the atmosphere on board did hamper their experience. For some people, the mere threat that they may catch something confining them to their cabin for the duration of their dream cruise is enough to ruin the holiday. The question for the cruise company or tour operator is what procedures they have in place to minimise or eliminate the risk of illness and what steps they take when passengers or guests fall ill.

It must be accepted that there is only so far any tour operator, including Thomson, can go. As one of the commentators on this article points out - Thomson can hardly be liable for birds landing on an outside table. That said, one would expect the ship's crew to have a robustly implemented cleaning and inspection routine.

Customers pay a lot of money for their holidays, particularly cruises. The brochure, leaflets, the advertising in the build up to booking and going on the cruise all add to the expectation and anticipation. No one would expect to fall ill with food poisoning or norovirus when on holiday and enjoying services they have paid for from a world class tour operator. It is one thing falling ill at home but when this happens on the high seas or abroad, at the one time of the year when you expect to be able to kick back and relax, then things can seem a million times worse.

If you're cruising this summer then pack the alcogel, take extra care on board, drink lots of water and, above all, have fun!

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