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Royal Caribbean passengers win court battle over norovirus outbreak on cruise ship

In:
29Jun2012

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. 

Video: A look at Royal Caribbean's medical faculties at sea

In:
15Feb2012

Cruise passenger evacuated from Jewel of the Seas

In:
14Feb2012

United States Coast Guard reported that a 75 year old cruise passenger had to be evacuated by sea from Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas after he fainted.

The Coast Guard was called at 6:12pm and a 45-foot vessel was sent to take the man and his family to Medical Center of Trinity in Tampa, Florida. The cruise passenger had an irregular heartbeat after he fainted and it was determined by the ship's doctor that the best course of action was to get him off the ship.

How to avoid getting norovirus on your cruise

In:
Category: 
07Feb2012

Recently another Royal Caribbean ship was affected by a norovirus outbreak, where many passengers became very sick.  Over the years we've heard reports of outbreaks on other ships but there are definite precautions you can take to avoid getting sick yourself.

What is norovirus?

Norovirus is a virus that causes acute gastroenteritis.  This means people will have symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Noroviruses spread from person to person, through contaminated food or water, and by touching contaminated surfaces. Norovirus is recognized as the leading cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States. Outbreaks can happen to people of all ages and in a variety of settings.

How to prevent contracting norovirus

Norovirus is commonly contracted by

  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus (someone gets stool or vomit on their hands, then touches food or drink).
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth.
  • Having direct contact with a person who is infected with norovirus (for example, when caring for someone with norovirus or sharing foods or eating utensils with them).

Generally speaking, people with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least 3 days after they recover.

You can prevent getting sick by

  • Washing your hands, especially after using the restrooms and before eating or preparing food. 
  • Avoid shaking hands during outbreaks.
  • Do not prepare food for others if you become sick for up to 3 days after becoming sick.
  • Wash laundry that may be contaminated with vomit or stool.

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