The Court of Appeal has ruled that a group of passengers who fell seriously ill on board a Fred Olsen Cruise Lines ship are entitled to compensation.
The 16 passengers suffered gastric illness symptoms, including diarrhoea, vomiting and severe stomach cramps, while sailing on the ship Boudicca to the Canary Islands, Cape Verde and the Iberian Peninsula in March and April 2011.
Three judges – Lord Justice Gross, Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson and Lord Justice Christopher Clarke – rejected an appeal by the line and found it liable for norovirus outbreaks that ruined the passengers’ holidays.
The ruling on Friday paves the way for the passengers to receive a fair settlement of their claims.
Simon O’Loughlin, a solicitor from the law firm Irwin Mitchell, which represented them, said: “This Court of Appeal victory will finally give the passengers who suffered illness during and after cruises on the Boudicca cruise ship in 2011 a sense of justice.
“They booked their trips expecting a relaxing cruise but instead ended up suffering illness often confining them to their cabins for days.
“It’s extremely disappointing that Fred Olsen have fought this to trial, and then all the way to the Court of Appeal, but we are delighted that the court has again ruled in our clients’ favour and they will now finally receive a fair settlement from the cruise company after enduring such terrible times on board the Boudicca ship.”
He added: “There are strict procedures and plans in order to prevent the spread of illness on board cruise ships, which include the need for ships to be subject to an extensive deep cleaning process following reports of problems.
“Sadly in this case the plans were not implemented sufficiently which should have been a priority after the number of passengers who had become ill.
“Whilst nothing can ever fully make up for the suffering they endured during the cruise, this is a great result for our clients and I am very pleased to see that the court has fully recognised the need for cruise lines to take appropriate and sufficient steps to prevent passengers from contracting illness.”
A Fred Olsen spokeswoman told the Daily Mail: “Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is extremely disappointed by the court’s decision, particularly in light of the permission to appeal the original ruling.
“Fred Olsen believes that it made every reasonable effort, in accordance with its approved norovirus outbreak prevention and control plan, to prevent and contain the virus on board Boudicca.
“In the original ruling, the Judge deemed Fred Olsen’s norovirus outbreak prevention and control plan to be ‘an appropriate plan consistent with authoritative advice and with industry standards’.”
She said outbreak prevention is of utmost important and every crew member is aware of the plan’s strict requirements.
The spokeswoman added: “Fred Olsen guests are all made aware of the need to maintain the highest standards of personal hygiene at all times and are educated regularly as to how to prevent the outbreak and spread of the virus on board.”
Irwin Mitchell claimed that it has represented more than 200 passengers who say they were affected by similar symptoms on board Boudicca from 2009 to 2013.
The law firm secured a settlement of £280,000 for passengers who fell ill in 2009 and 2010, and is still seeking compensation for passengers who suffered illness in 2012 and 2013.
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