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Royal Caribbean passengers win court battle over norovirus outbreak on cruise ship
Three cruise ship passengers from Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas won a court decision in Brazil after seeking compensation following a norovirus outbreak aboard the ship back in March 2010.
The ship departed from Port Santos, Brazil when 348 people onboard were contracted norovirus. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea were some of the symptoms experienced by the passengers, who resorted to the court system to be reimbursed for the damage.
The attorney that specializes in consumer law, Ferrette Sueli Maria Gomes, was approached by three passengers dissatisfied with the consequences of the outbreak.
One of the plantiffs was Freire Lourdes Domingues, 79, who was infected and claims to have almost died because of the norovirus. The other two passengers who sought legal action felt changed in Vision's itinerary caused greater injury to them since they were prevented from getting off the ship at their destinations. The trip included stops in Buzios, in Rio de Janeiro and Ilhabela in São Paulo coast.
According to the lawyer, setting the value to be paid for each passenger fell to the judge, as Royal Caribbean did not offer to make a deal. The only deal the company was offering was a 25% discount on a future trip.
Royal Caribbean had to pay about $33,000, including punitive damages and reimbursement of passages (R$ 2,994.00 each). The compensation was increased to Lourdes, due to contracting gastroenteritis. She received $12,000 in damages only. The other two tourists won £6,000 each by the hassles.
Among the complaints made by passengers, is there being only one doctor to serve the people, without priority for children and seniors. Furthermore, it was alleged that the norovirus can spread via unwashed food and water, which was a possible sign of poor hygiene.
When asked about the ruling, Royal Caribbean said in a written statement it is appealing the verdict. Royal Caribbean also announced that as soon as the symptoms were detected on board the Vision of the Seas, the ship immediately reported the incident to the ANVISA and "took all actions necessary to ensure the welfare of the guests on board."
The company also noted that viral outbreaks can not be directly related to the ship. "A virus from external sources can be installed on the vessel human transmission and thus did not cause any problems as food and water on the ship."
Royal Caribbean also mentioned that all ships coming to Brazil are subject to the control of various organs and meet strict standards, controls and taxes from international organizations.