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Legal 500 - Aviation (2011)
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More Passengers Suffer Sickness On Cruise Ship With “Unacceptable Illness Record”
Law firm demands action after yet more passengers struck down on Thomson Dream cruise ship with history of sickness
Lawyers are urging owners of a popular cruise ship to provide reassurance over hygiene procedures after being contacted for help for the second year running from concerned passengers who fell ill onboard the Thomson Dream cruise ship.
Last summer more than 400 furious holidaymakers called Irwin Mitchell after their cruises around the Mediterranean on board the Thomson Dream were ruined as sickness spread ‘like a plague’ among the passengers.
Irwin Mitchell has received calls from yet more holidaymakers who suffered illness onboard the ship during cruises in December, January and February, leading them to call for reassurances that hygiene standards and the safety of future passengers can be guaranteed.
Holidaymakers, many of whom paid more than £1,000 each to travel giant Thomson for their holiday, have described how they were confined to their cabins just days into their trip after succumbing to an illness outbreak which has plagued several voyages of the liner, which only came into service with Thomson in April 2010.
Experts at the national law firm also urged Thomson’s owner TUI UK Ltd –criticised in a recent judgment for failing to notify guests about illness outbreaks at a Majorcan hotel in 2003 – to come clean with customers booked to travel on the liner in the future if there was a real risk of contracting illness.
Denise and her husband Christopher Gleave, from Failsworth, Manchester, were celebrating their anniversary on a two week New Year Thomson Dream cruise from 30 December 2010 to 14 January 2011. However, halfway through the holiday both suffered serious gastric illness with symptoms including diarrhoea, dizziness, nausea, lethargy and stomach cramps.
Despite receiving medication and being quarantined by a nurse onboard the ship they are both still suffering from symptoms and are awaiting test results from their GP back home.
Mr Gleave said: “I’m a self-employed photographer, which means any time I’m ill and not working I’m losing out, so this situation is just a disaster for us. You don’t expect to go on holiday and come back feeling worse than before.
“We worked extremely hard to be able to celebrate our anniversary with a luxury cruise but it was completely ruined. We’re now worried about the impact of the illness and whether there could be lasting problems as we are still suffering now. It’s certainly given us a New Year to remember but for all the wrong reasons!”
Mr and Mrs Gleave complained that the food was of a very poor standard on ship and had little refrigeration. Their cabin was filthy with dirty brown tap water, and the ship had a wide range of problems such as broken air conditioning, smell of sewage, hairs left in the showers, water shortages, laundry service not available and blocked toilets.
Online travel site TripAdvisor had also seen many negative reviews of the Thomson Dream cruise liner, with travellers saying they too suffered three nights without water, blocked toilets and horrendous smells on the ship.
Clive Garner, head of travel law at Irwin Mitchell, is determined to help passengers get the answers they deserve. He said: “Last year we had requests for assistance from over 400 passengers who travelled on this cruise ship between May and October, so to be receiving calls about cruises that took place in December, January and February is unacceptable.
“Passengers who have travelled on the Thomson Dream are furious that their ‘luxury break’ has ended with them suffering severe illness having stayed on a ship that was nothing like tour operator Thomson had advertised.
“The passengers onboard the Thomson Dream have had an extremely distressing time and it is unacceptable that other passengers could fall ill and have a holiday ruined due to poor hygiene standards.
“People have suffered from symptoms ranging from stomach cramps to sickness and while we continue to investigate the latest reports of illness, passengers in the past have been confirmed as having contracted Campylobacter, a form of food poisoning.
“Such illnesses can have a long lasting impact on health, and can be extremely dangerous for the young and the elderly, so it is essential that illness outbreaks are prevented and that passenger protection is put before commercial considerations.
“Thomson needs to assure its customers, both past, present and future, that no more passengers will suffer illness. Meanwhile, we invite Thomson to work with us as soon as possible to resolve our clients' claims amicably and quickly.”
Over the years Irwin Mitchell has successfully represented many hundreds of cruise passengers who have suffered illness during cruises in different parts of the world. This includes recovering over £190,000 in compensation for 39 passengers who suffered illness including salmonella and e.coli, during cruises on board Thomson’s MS Topaz cruise liner.