According to various news sources, both Princess Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines have been forced to delay and alter itineraries after hundreds of passengers and crew were sickened by Norovirus outbreaks.
Princess Cruise Lines has acknowledged at least 499 cases of Norovirus illnesses on two separate ships. The Crown Princess, a 3,080 passenger vessel, returned to port on February 4, 2012 with 364 sick passengers and 30 sick crewmembers. On the Ruby Princess, some 92 out of 3,133 passengers were sickened, as well as 13 of the 1,186 crew.
Similarly, some 203 out of 3,139 passengers and nine crew on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas experienced Norovirus-like symptoms on a cruise from January 28 to February 4, 2012. The CDC continues to investigate.
According to the CDC, Noroviruses can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping, low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, nausea, and tiredness. Cruise ships can be a hotbed for Norovirus outbreaks due to the isolated nature of the boats and the close proximity of thousands of passengers. As such, the CDC requires that any ship experiencing illnesses in over 3% of the persons on board make a report and participate in the Vessel Sanitation Program. According to the blog "Cruise Law News," last year only 14 ships with U.S. ports-of-call reported outbreaks, while the first five weeks of 2012 have already seen five such outbreaks.
While cruise ships offer a microcosm in which researchers can study Noroviruses and other similar pathogens, outbreaks occur in a variety of situations, some of which can lead to legal action. The law firm of Dreyer Boyajian LLP is currently co-class counsel for a large group of people that were sickened by a Norovirus outbreak at a water park in upstate New York. In that case, it is alleged that more than 600 people were sickened at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark as a result of a Norovirus outbreak. There, many of the victims were children who suffered relatively brief, but violent periods of illness.
Cruise ships, hotels, waterparks and other businesses that serve large groups of people may be held liable in court for negligence in failing to take steps to prevent disease outbreaks, or for adequately cleaning up from them after they become known. If you or a loved one has been sickened in an outbreak, it is important for you to preserve your legal rights by contacting an experienced attorney. Contact Dreyer Boyajian LLP today at (518)463-7784, or click here, if you would like to discuss a potential case.