The Celebrity Solstice ship has reportedly been dealing with a series of Norovirus outbreaks, according to reports and a recent passenger’s statement. The passenger stated that he and his wife had been informed of the prior outbreak of the gastrointestinal virus after their ship left the Sydney port for Auckland. The passenger claims that it was not until the ship left Melbourne that the captain announced to passengers that an earlier cruise had an outbreak of the Norovirus, and informed guests to take extra sanitary precautions such as extensive hand washing and using hand sanitizer.
In a statement, Celebrity Cruises reportedly confirmed cases of the illness in passengers and crew, and claimed that it had sent a text message about the outbreak in informing passengers that it would need additional time to clean the ship.
Norovirus can be transmitted through infected food or water, by personal contact, or with contact with a surface that has been contaminated.
The passenger who claims he was not informed of the potential presence of the virus decided to leave the cruise early with his wife, who had already come down with the illness, and was told that the cruise line would not offer a refund, but maybe he could secure a credit for a future cruise.
Unfortunately, Norovirus has a place in cruise ship headlines. In 2014, it was reported that 60 of 3500 passengers aboard The Diamond Princess from Australia to New Zealand also caught the nasty stomach bug. More than 200, 27% of passengers, on a British ship contracted the illness just last year.
It would be incredibly unfortunate if the passenger’s account that the company did not warn about the potential risk of contracting Norovirus was accurate. Cruise lines have a duty to warn their passengers of any dangers that may be present, including the potential presence of any diseases that may be transmitted to passengers. If cruise lines have knowledge that a disease, such as Norovirus, is present on its ship, the cruise line could have attempted to contact passengers that had already booked the cruise to inform the customers so that they could decide whether they wanted to keep their reservations. Additionally, cruise lines have the ability post this information on their websites so that future guests can make informed decision about their vacations.
If a cruise line did not provide adequate warnings about illnesses or diseases, and a passenger contracts the disease while on board, the cruise line may be held liable for any damages that ensue. Under federal maritime law a cruise line has a legal duty to act with reasonable care under the circumstances. This includes a duty to keep its passengers safe both on and off of the ship.
More specifically, the standard of care that a cruise line owes its passengers is to protect them from dangers that the carrier had actual or constructive notice of. Here, the cruise line stated that it did have knowledge of the prior outbreak, in claiming that it contacted passengers via text message. However, it is a bit confusing that the captain reportedly did not make an announcement about additional precautions related to the potential risk of contracting the virus until the ship was already at sea.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cruise ship accident cases, has stated that the duty of care owed to cruise ship passengers is, “[t]he extent to which the circumstances surrounding maritime travel are different from those encountered in daily life and involve more danger to the passenger, will determine how high a degree of care is reasonable in each case. ” Keefe v. Bahama Cruise Lines, 137 F.2d 1318 (11th Cir. 1989). Thus, if the passengers on board of this ship wished to pursue a legal action, the court would look to what potential heightened risk was presented by being onboard the ship. The court would likely also pay close attention to what warnings were or were not given, in order to determine whether passengers were given a meaningful opportunity to choose not to sail and avoid potentially contracting the illness.
If you or a loved one have contracted norovirus or another disease while aboard a cruise ship, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or suffering. Our firm’s experienced cruise ship attorneys in Miami help assure that victims of negligence receive fair and just compensation. If you were injured by cruise line negligence, contact the Miami personal injury law offices of Gerson & Schwartz, PA which specializes in these cases. For a free case consultation, call 877-475-2905 today.
Pleasure cruise sails into nausea and near-mutiny, Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer Blog, published September 26, 2017
Cruise ship trips not always smooth sailing, Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer Blog, published June 19, 2017