Western Telegraph: advertising feature

Hundreds Of Holidaymakers In Bid To Sue.

Hundreds of British holidaymakers have come together, planning legal action against Thomson Holidays and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines after mass outbreaks of gastric illness on the cruise ships Island Escape and Boudicca.

The law firm, Irwin Mitchell, have taken on the case and is representing over 130 British tourists who became ill with suspected norovirus between December 18 and February 6.

It has questioned whether Boudicca should be withdrawn from service due to continuing instances of gastric illness. Allegedly, the ship has had 5 outbreaks of norovirus since October 2009.

The law firm has also called for an investigation into hygiene standards on Island Escape, which offers itineraries in the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean including Costa Almeria holidays and Balearic Islands, after several passengers reported broken lavatories, dirty conditions and leaking roofs.

47 year old Jill Nettleship and 48 year old Robert Fox, from Sheffield, claim they were both struck down with severe gastric sickness on Island Escape in January and had to be admitted into a hospital on the Canary Island, Tenerife. They also criticised the standards of health and hygiene on the ship and so are preparing to sue Thomson.

An anonymous passenger also on the ship claimed there were foul odours and flooded cabins. The woman, who paid &pound3,500 for her holiday also described staff as "dismissive" and "lacking empathy".

Thomson denied claims of poor hygiene standards on board Island Escape, saying "Outbreaks of norovirus are common, particularly within contained environments such as nursing homes, hospitals and schools. We therefore refute inferences that an outbreak on a cruise ship is due to poor hygiene standards," a statement said.

Irwin Mitchell is also fronting a legal action case for 86 passengers who have stayed on Fred Olsen's ship Boudicca since October. Derek Eaton, a 75 year old from Milton Keynes along with his wife, Marina, paid &pound10,000 for their New Year cruise before both taking ill on board. They claim to have been confined to their cabin for two days.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines released a statement, saying "Every ship in the Fred Olsen fleet follows a very strict set of procedures and protocols as soon as there is evidence of a gastro-like virus having been brought on board, and these procedures have been fully approved by relevant maritime authorities and the Health Protection Agency.

So if you're considering embarking on a cruise this year, think past such problems as these and ensure your own hygiene levels are suffice so you can enjoy your holidays sailing around the Med. Experience holidays in Palma, trips to the Canaries or Costa Almeria holidays in good health and good spirits.