Articles Posted in Virus Outbreaks at Sea

Last year, the cruise industry’s biggest story was the Costa Concordia’s grounding in Tuscany after it struck a rock in the seabed, which caused the ship to partially sink. This year the cruise industry has already experienced another unfortunate disaster with the engine room fire aboard the Carnival Triumph. Thousands of passengers and crewmembers were left stranded without power for four days, in conditions many described as unlivable. This week, at the annual Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM) conference, executives from the major cruise lines met to discuss the state of the cruise industry in general, and the effects of these incidents in particular. Despite a weak year relative to historical averages, executives said that 2012 was on par with industry expectations for most cruise lines, and many of the larger cruise lines expressed excitement about the new opportunities for expansion that are opening up in emerging markets such as East Asia and Brazil. (The European market struggled more than others due to the Concordia incident as well as the European sovereign-debt crisis).

The cruise line industry has maintained its stance that cruising is still one of the safest ways to vacation, and in an effort to reassure passengers unnerved by recent events, Carnival announced that it would be performing a thorough review of its entire fleet to help prevent any similar accidents or incidents in the future. Nevertheless, the Triumph fiasco has prompted many, both in and outside the industry, to demand greater safety regulation of the cruise ship industry. (Cruise line executives, of course, insist that the cruise ship industry is adequately regulated)

Horror stories of accidents, crimes, disappearances, and illnesses occurring on cruise ships are admittedly nothing new, dating back to the infamous maiden-voyage of the Titanic. And while it is true that the percentage of passengers who experience a serious injury or fatality is comparatively small relative to the total number of those who cruise, the frequency and severity of these episodes appears to be increasing. If you or any of your loved ones have suffered an accident or become ill aboard a cruise ship, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free consultation, contact the Law Office of David H. Pollack at 305-372-5900 or visit our website at www.davidpollacklaw.com.

The world’s last active ocean liner, Cunard Line’s RMS Queen Mary 2, made headlines last week when it was reported that as many as 201 of its passengers and crew members reported suffering from gastrointestinal illnesses and 19 showed active symptoms of norovirus. It was the second cruise ship that week that had reported an outbreak of the dangerous virus. However, a follow up report released by Cunard Line on Wednesday, January 2, states that only two passengers and 16 crew members had suspected cases of norovirus.

Norovirus is an easily transmissible virus that poses great risk for young children and the elderly. It causes vomiting and diarrhea, and in healthy individuals usually resolves in one or two days. The isolated nature of cruise ships creates an environment where viruses such as these can spread quickly and cause harm to those on board. Cunard Line claims that they took steps to help deter and prevent the spread of the virus by encouraging all passengers who showed symptoms to present themselves to the medical staff on board, quarantining the sick, and dispatching extra crew members to clean and disinfect public areas.

The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program has been investigating the situation on the Queen Mary 2, and on Thursday, sent two environmental health officers and an epidemiologist on board to assess the situation. They have released their investigation on their website. To view the full report, click here.