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Aussie cruise vomiting blows huge class action into wind

February 7, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A big Australian law firm specialising in personal injury compensation and operating on a no-win no-fee basis is mulling a class action that reportedly could involve up to 16,000 Australian passengers who took cruises on the ship Sun Princess.

Shine Lawyers anticipates representing passengers who allegedly experienced severe vomiting and diarrhoea during eight consecutive cruises in late 2016 and early 2017, Nine News reported yesterday.

Shine travel law department manager Thomas Janson was quoted by Triple M saying a potential class action against Sun Princess parent Carnival could be one of the biggest in Australian history.

Janson is a senior solicitor with Shine and national manager of the legal firm’s transport law department. He was instrumental in representing families of the victims of the 2014 Malaysia Airline crashes, the Air Vanuatu flight NF crash and the Air Bagan flight 11 crash.

Thomas Janson

Janson said the Sun Princess matter “revolves around an alleged failure of a duty of care by Carnival to properly and adequately sanitise the Sun Princess on each cruise and also to give adequate guidelines and safeguards to passengers in preventing them from coming down with norovirus”.

“Best practice dictates the ship should have been put into dry dock for up to 48 or 72 hours and cleaned thoroughly.

“What we’ve been told is that there were very short turnarounds, usually of around two hours, to clean the ship before the next lot of passengers and new crew boarded … that’s manifestly inadequate to sanitise a ship that’s the size of a skyscraper.”

According to the Nine News account, if the action proceeds, compensation would likely vary, but on average it could equate to a full refund of the cruise price “plus twice the amount again as damages for disappointment and distress”.

Sun Princess

The figure of 16,000 passengers cited would seem to derive from the passenger capacity of the ship (about 2000) multiplied by the number of cruises mentioned (eight) – though not all passengers would have experienced vomiting or diarrhoea. That point may become clearer in time.

Carnival Australia corporate communications manager David Jones described the 16,000 figure as “patently absurd” saying the risk of becoming ill on a cruise ship was only something like 0.02%.

A class action, however, could potentially cover passengers who felt their cruise experience had been negatively affected by a norovirus outbreak, even if they hadn’t contracted the virus themselves.

With norovirus outbreaks reported regularly on cruises around the world, you can bet the world’s cruise lines will be watching this very closely. Any association of pleasure cruising with vomiting and diarrhoea is obviously a link the cruise industry is keen to avoid.

Written by Peter Needham

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