There can be no doubt that a highlight for many cruise guests is the food, featuring a range of culinary adventures from massive breakfast buffets and pizza on-demand to fine dining and late night snacks. You might not give a second thought to the sanitary practices regarding the preparation, presentation, and storage behind the scenes of your favorite dishes, but data reveals some safety concerns. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 21,600 passengers experience acute gastrointestinal illness and other food borne illnesses every year while traveling on cruises.
When compared to the millions of guests that do not get sick on cruises, this figure is relatively low. Still, a bout with food poisoning can completely ruin your vacation, and do not expect a quick, automatic refund from the cruise operator. It is critical to work with a Miami cruise ship lawyer to protect your interests and seek appropriate compensation for your losses. You might also benefit from reviewing a few basics about food borne illnesses on cruise vacations.
How Cruise Passengers May Contract Food Borne Illnesses
The sources of food poisoning on ships are the same as what you would find in busy restaurants, diners, food trucks, and other establishments. However, the close proximity of passengers on the vessel and buffet-style service can create an ideal environment for the spread of germs. Bacterial and viral pathogens can lead to norovirus, staphylococcus, and salmonella, all of which may involve vomiting, nausea, cramping, diarrhea, and many other unpleasant effects.
The most common ways passengers contract food poisoning on cruise ships include:
- Unsanitary utensils, bakeware, pots, pans, and dishes;
- Passengers sneezing, coughing, or exhaling germs on buffet tables; and,
- Bacteria and pathogens on common area surfaces, such as rails near stairs, balconies, and on deck.
Safety Tips to Prevent Food Poisoning
Fortunately, there are ways you can decrease your risk of contracting an acute gastrointestinal illness on a cruise ship. These are the tips you have probably heard many times, but a reminder could save your vacation.
- Always practice effective hand hygiene. Wash frequently, including after using the bathroom and before eating. Avoid touching your face and eyes, which are more susceptible to allowing bacteria to enter the body. You can also carry hand sanitizer for use in-between hand washings.
- Opt for full-service dining over buffets to reduce the potential for cross-contamination. There are fewer hands touching utensils, and far fewer people breathing on or around your food.
- Avoid foods typically served undercooked or raw, such as sushi and steak tartare.
- Use caution when dining ashore and on cruise excursions.
Learn More by Consulting With a Miami Cruise Ship Attorney
For additional information on your rights and remedies after suffering food poisoning on a cruise, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. We can schedule a free case evaluation for you at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL, or via teleconference if you have already returned home. Once we review your circumstances, we can explain the legal process.