Fred. Olsen could face £1m legal bill after norovirus outbreak on Balmoral cruise ship, law firm claims

The Balmoral (stock image).

The Balmoral (stock image). - Credit: Fred. Olsen Travel

Ipswich cruise ship firm Fred. Olsen could face compensation claims worth over £1 million after hundreds of passengers fell ill after a norovirus outbreak, a law firm has claimed.

Some 252 of the 919 passengers on board Balmoral fell ill after it left Southampton on April 16, according to the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC). The ship’s owner, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, based in White House Road, said it undertook “extensive sanitisation measures” and cleaned the ship. It said Balmoral has not been quarantined in any port and is continuing the 34-night ‘Old England to New England’ cruise “as planned”.

Yesterday, seven passengers were required to remain in their cabins in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. All other passengers had recovered. The majority of those affected were British, Fred. Olsen confirmed.

Specimens collected when the ship docked in the US city of Baltimore between April 30 to May 1 tested positive for norovirus, CDC said.

Balmoral has suffered from previous outbreaks of norovirus, which can cause projectile vomiting and diarrhoea.

Ciaran McCabe, a solicitor at law firm Moore Blatch, said: “At this stage we don’t have the full details, but it would be reasonable to assume that Fred. Olsen could be facing claims from affected travellers of in excess of £1 million.

“Typically, a passenger who has suffered for around two weeks from symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea would be entitled to between £2,000 and £3,000 each. If the illness is much more severe, the compensation can be significantly higher.”

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A Fred. Olsen spokesman said: “Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines can confirm that a gastroenteritis-type illness has affected a number of guests on board Balmoral’s 34-night L1608 ‘Old England to New England’ cruise, which departed from Southampton on April 16 2016. There are currently just seven guests who have been required to remain in their cabins, out of a total of 1,434 guests and crew on board.

“Fred. Olsen believes that it is unique amongst cruise lines in providing immediate compensation to any guest who is required to remain in isolation.

“Balmoral has undergone inspections by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – receiving a US Public Health score of 91% – US Coastguard and the Public Health Agency of Canada. The ship is due to arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (this) morning.

“Fred. Olsen has been undertaking extensive sanitisation measures and cleaning of the ship, following its strict illness containment and prevention plan, and is bringing on board an additional doctor and an extra nurse. Twenty additional professional external cleaning staff are also being sent out to the ship.

“It is believed that the highly-contagious gastric illness was brought onto the ship, and is spread by person-to-person – or surface-to-surface – contact. Clusters are more commonly seen in areas where people are in close proximity, such as hotels, schools and hospitals, as well as cruise ships.

“Fred. Olsen will continue to make every effort possible to ensure the safety and well-being of all its guests and crew on board, which is of paramount ‎importance.”

The ship is scheduled to return to Southampton on May 20.

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