Couple slam ‘plague’ cruise ship
Monday 16th September 2013, 6:30PM BST.
A couple have branded a luxury cruiser a “modern day plague ship” after being among four dozen tourists hit by a virulent gastric bug during a dream holiday tour.
Sandra Pole, of Cardiff, suffered such a severe bout of the illness her husband was forced to urgently call in the ship’s doctor.
The couple were among several dozen tourists on the luxury Princess Cruises liner hit by the shipborne gastric bug during a Mediterranean tour in 2010.
Severe symptoms of sickness, diarrhoea and stomach cramp were so widespread the smell of illness was left hanging over the liner.
The retired couple were so marked by the nightmare cruise they have not set foot outside Britain to go on holiday since returning in May 2010.
They are among more than 48 people who are celebrating after collectively receiving more than £100,000 in compensation.
Mrs Pole, 64, contracted the bug on the last day of the two week Mediterranean tour but suffered severe symptoms for the next 17 days.
Husband Geoffrey, 69, came down with the bug himself the day after getting home to the Pantmawr area of Cardiff, and had the illness for three days.
Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have won compensation for 48 passengers hit by the bug during cruises on the Grand Princess Cruise Ship between April and August 2010.
Operator Carnival, trading as Princess Cruises, has agreed to pay damages of more than £100,000 after dozens of passengers were afflicted, the legal team said.
Passengers complained that some food was served cold and left uncovered for long periods during a sitting and some communal facilities were dirty and shabby.
“The holiday was something that we really had to save hard for. We booked it with friends about nine months before and were really looking forward to it,” said Mrs Pole today.
“It was like a dream holiday for us but we would never go on a cruise again. We haven’t been out of Britain since it happened.
“We’ve been on self-catering holidays in north Wales and the Isle of Wight. It’s put us right off.”
She said passengers were warned about the shipboard bug in an announcement over the tannoy about five days before their holiday was due to finish.
Hygienic wipes and gels were brought out and public areas wiped off but by then some passengers were already being forced to keep to their cabins.
“We spoke with some Americans on the ship who said that it was known that the gastric bug was already aboard before we got on at Southampton,” she claimed.
“I came down with it on the last day of the holiday and I was so bad I couldn’t leave the cabin. I had to be close to the toilet.
“My poor husband couldn’t use it at all because of me. He had to get the ship’s doctor to come to the cabin and give me an injection, I was so bad. It was atrocious.
“You could smell the illness throughout the ship, if you know what I mean, it was like being on some sort of modern day a plague ship.
“I felt so bad when I got back to Cardiff I had to keep close to home. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anybody.”
She said the holiday had cost them £3,500 and they had since received compensation of £3,100.
Mrs Pole was among the dozens of passengers who instructed lawyers at Irwin Mitchell and who had to seek medical attention while onboard the ship.
All those who were ill suffered symptoms such as sickness, diarrhoea and agonising stomach cramps.
Elizabeth Tetzner, a specialist travel lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who led the case, said: “We are delighted for our clients that they have now received a fair settlement from the cruise operator after enduring such terrible times on board the Grand Princess Cruise.
“What is particularly concerning about this case is that it would appear that the ship’s staff were clearly aware of the risk of gastric illness because a number of our clients have reported how they were delayed boarding due to a deep clean taking place.
“But despite this we were instructed by over 45 passengers, the majority of whom had all fallen ill during a four month period.
“Sadly we continue to hear from passengers who fall ill on cruise ships as a result of poor hygiene standards and we remain very concerned that cruise operators have not learned vital lessons.
“All too often holidaymakers suffer illness, sometimes with life changing consequences due to inadequate health and hygiene standards and it is not acceptable.”
A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises was approached about the compensation payment but had not replied at this time.