The recent news of the MV Balmoral passengers allegedly suffering with the so-called Norovirus infection, simply adds to a long list of complaints received by this organisation from cruise passengers. UK cruise-lovers often report to us their experience of poor conditions and threats to their health from their time on board cruise ships and river boats.
Passengers are meant to be reassured by the now oft repeated mantra from Cruise Companies, that the health and welfare of their passengers are paramount and that they apply all the latest health protections to keep them safe.
The cruise industry has again recently been highlighting their 'success' in a court judgement which held that the cruise company in that case had done all they could to protect passengers. The industry should realise that court precedents are often overturned or distinguished because of new arguments or new facts that make a case distinctive; it is not the comfort blanket that they should assume will permanently cover them!
Reports from the Balmoral cruise ship apparently revealed that over 200 people had suffered illness and that some were apparently confined to cabins. It also appears that the US CDC boarded the ship to help the cruise company deal with this outbreak of illness. In addition, there have been reports that the previous cruise also allegedly holds reports of sick passengers, with an apparent turnaround time of 6 hours before the present cruise departed.
The Organisation notes the latest statement from the operators of the MV Balmoral, in which they state that there have been no new outbreaks of illness nor any further confinement of passengers to cabins. We also note from their statement that compensation has been offered to those affected on-board.
It is this Organisation’s general view that cruise passengers pay good money for their holiday of a lifetime and are often subjected to poor on-board conditions or to conditions like those apparently being suffered by the passengers of the current cruise on the Balmoral.
We are also concerned that cruise passengers in general may be tempted to settle their complaints on-board, when in fact their ongoing health may be compromised by exposure to an unconfirmed virus or perhaps some other undetermined pathogen. It is always our advice that if you have suffered sickness on-board a cruise ship or river boat, that you seek and obtain an independent stool sample test, to ensure that the treatment and reason for your illness is confirmed as being correct! If you fail to take this important simple step, you could potentially impair your diagnosis and recovery, thereby affecting your future social and working life!
In all cases of cruise complaints, we would encourage all passengers to accept, like with any other Consumer product they may buy, that if it fails, you have substantial rights and that care must be taken to ensure that you do not suffer a failure in being properly compensated.
Frank Brehany, the Consumer Director for HolidayTravelWatch states:
"The current Balmoral cruise is just one example of a potential serious holiday complaint. We receive complaints not just from cruisers on the high seas but also from those holidaymakers taking a more leisurely but popular river boat cruise. Consumers need to lose their shyness on complaining and seek the correct rights and compensation; they need to ensure that they receive clear independent advices before they accept any offer to settle complaints. If you fail to carefully manage your complaint, you could potentially find yourself following the cruise company management of complaints, which should always advise you to seek independent advices before you accept anything. Equally, the Cruise Industry and the European Union need to examine issues of illness and safety carefully, and create the conditions for a regulatory regime that re-addresses the balance so that Consumers can enjoy better rights and protections on-board!"