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06/19/24   |   By

How Common Is Food Poisoning on a Cruise Ship?

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Cruise ships are known for their abundance of activities while relaxing with loved ones. Unfortunately, they also have a track record of foodborne illnesses, gastrointestinal illnesses (GI), and Norovirus outbreaks.

How common is food poisoning on a cruise ship?Given the tight quarters guests and crew members are in, outbreaks on cruise ships are incredibly common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP), which records outbreaks on ships.

Illnesses on cruise ships are considered an outbreak when three percent or more passengers or crew report symptoms of GI illness.

While it can be hard to avoid norovirus or rotavirus once an infected person has made contact with you on the ship, there are ways to avoid another culprit of sickness on the seas: food poisoning.

You can minimize your chances of getting sick onboard by choosing meal options carefully and washing your hands regularly.

However, suppose you still fall victim to foodborne illness and stomach viruses. In that case, you may recover compensation for your losses if you suffered illness while on a cruise, such as the Royal Caribbean Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, etc. Regan Zambri Long can help you file a cruise ship foodborne illness lawsuit.

Sources of Foodborne Illness on Cruise Ships

Foodborne illnesses can occur on cruise ships, such as in restaurants, hospitals, or other facilities dining on the premises. With tight spaces for food preparation and dining and the number of hands touching the food at buffets, you may be scooping up a contagious virus with your dinner.

Common sources of foodborne illnesses on cruise ships include:

  • Contaminated food or water, such as seafood
  • Cross-contamination
  • Food kept or prepared at an improper temperature
  • Improper storage of foods

Not only can food be made and kept incorrectly, causing illness, but foods can also hold illnesses when touched by a sick passenger.

Norovirus and Rotavirus

Norovirus, also known as the “cruise ship virus,” is the leading cause of gastrointestinal illness on cruise ships. While it is often called the stomach bug or stomach flu, it is not a flu virus.

Norovirus is common on cruise ships because it is easily transmitted from an infected person. Still, it can also occur by consuming contaminated food or water or touching contaminated surfaces.

Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines, leading to stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Though less common, passengers may also experience rotavirus on cruise ships from the shedding of the virus via diarrhea. The virus passes when someone with rotavirus does not properly wash their hands, contaminating surfaces, food, etc.

Other foodborne illnesses

In addition to norovirus and rotavirus, other foodborne illnesses can occur on cruise ships. They include:

  • Salmonella is very common on cruise ships that serve uncooked or undercooked seafood, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, eggs, fruits, and vegetables.
  • E. Coli: Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a bacterial strain of E. coli. It can be found on cruise ships in contaminated water or food, such as raw vegetables and undercooked ground beef.
  • Hepatitis: Hepatitis A can be transmitted through contaminated food, water, or stool.
  • Listeria: Found in soil, water, and animal feces, listeria can contaminate vegetables, meat, unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, hot dogs, and deli meats.
  • Shigella: Caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or water or through contact with an infected person. Shigella can also be passed through by sexual activity with a sick person.

Proving that the cruise company’s negligence caused one of these stomach ailments can be challenging, but Regan Zambri Long can help.

What Are the Common Causes of Foodborne Illness on Cruise Ships?

The risk of food poisoning on a cruise ship is high, given the variety of foods being served by numerous food handlers. All it takes is one person to not wash their hands properly after preparing or serving food to cause a cruise ship outbreak for fellow passengers and crewmembers.

Some of the most common causes of cruise ship food poisoning include:

  • Contaminated food or water. This can be in the actual consumption or preparation of food and beverages.
  • Infected or sick food handlers. Many foodborne illnesses are spread from person-to-person contact as these bacteria are easily transmissible when proper personal hygiene is not practiced. Further, these ships are closed environments, leading to a breeding ground for sickness to pass.
  • Inadequate food storage, processing, handling, or serving. Certain meats need to be prepared and stored after a certain temperature has been met. However, given the quantities of food served buffet-style on cruise ships, improper processing and serving of these meals can cause illness.
  • Airborne illnesses. Even when all risk factors are accounted for, sometimes sickness is airborne, and nothing can be done to stop an outbreak. This is because even if you are not sneezing on or talking to a sick person, their respiratory particles can travel through the air, infecting surfaces and food.

How to Avoid Food Poisoning on Cruise Ships

While you likely can’t completely avoid running into a sick cruise ship passenger or touching elevator buttons or other common surfaces, there are things you can do to avoid food poisoning while on a cruise ship.

The first is to wash your hands with soapy, warm water. If you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, especially after touching common surfaces and eating and drinking.

Second, choose the meals you eat carefully. Avoid undercooked meats, runny eggs, sushi, etc. If you eat meat, ask for it to be cooked medium or well. Do not drink water when dining during shore excursions; opt for bottled beverages. Also, avoid drinking too much alcohol.

If you can choose full-dining service over a buffet. A buffet has health risks, like food sitting out too long, cross-contamination from certain bacteria and germs, or tainted food.

Lastly, you can bring snacks and drinks on the ship if permitted. However, you may not take them off the boat when you go to shore, so ask what the local laws permit.

Can You Sue for Food Poisoning on a Cruise Ship?

You can sue for food poisoning on a cruise ship–but the process can be challenging. You must prove that the cruise line was negligent in its food safety practices or in mitigating the spread of illness.

Unfortunately, many cases require infectious disease experts, medical professionals, and maritime law experts to help determine if the cruise ship is liable.

It is critical to document when you first begin experiencing symptoms like abdominal cramps and other gastroenteritis-related ailments and get help from medical staff on board right away.

Compensation in a Cruise Ship Food Poisoning Lawsuit

If your cruise line food poisoning case is successful, you may be entitled to the following forms of compensation.

  • Medical expenses related to the illness, including current and future health care.
  • Lost wages if the sickness leaves you out of work for some time
  • Pain and suffering
  • Travel expenses if your trip had to be cut short due to the illness
  • Punitive damages in cases where the cruise line acted with gross negligence

How much compensation you are entitled to will depend on the severity of your illness and losses, along with your shared liability. Sometimes, your travel insurance may also provide financial compensation for your sickness-related losses.

A food poisoning lawyer from Regan Zambri Long can help you determine what avenues for financial compensation exist.

How Can a Food Poisoning Lawyer Help with a Claim?

Someone must be held accountable when improper food serving practices, poor hygiene, and bad food make passengers sick.

A food poisoning lawyer from Regan Zambri Long can provide you with legal advice to ensure you get a fair settlement for your illness on a passenger cruise ship.

The cruise ship industry has legal nuances that make these claims difficult, but with a lawyer, you can get the compensation you need to compensate for this vacation gone wrong.

Steps to Take if You Get Food Poisoning on a Cruise Ship

If you get sick on a cruise ship, you must protect yourself to take future legal action and protect other passengers.

  • Tell medical staff. The first thing you must do when you begin to experience any symptoms of stomach pain, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc., is to inform the medical team on board. They’ll want to know everything you did and ate while on the cruise ship to begin isolating the cause of your symptoms. Tell them your food and any relevant information about when the sickness began.
  • Isolate and follow medical advice. To keep others safe and avoid spreading the sickness, isolate in your cabin and follow the instructions provided by the medical team.
  • Make sure the group you’re traveling with knows you’re sick. It may feel uncomfortable telling your friends and family you have a stomach bug, but it’s important that whomever you have direct contact with is aware of your sickness so they can monitor for symptoms.
  • Keep records. If it is a foodborne outbreak, you’ll want documentation of when the event occurred so you can prove it later in a case.
  • Contact your travel insurance agent to review any financial reimbursements for sickness while on the ship.
  • Call a lawyer. If you think your sickness resulted from negligence, call a lawyer. These cases are difficult and can be impossible to handle on your own.

How Long Do I Have to File a Cruise Ship Food Poisoning Lawsuit?

Unlike other personal injury claims, the statute of limitations for cases against cruise lines is one year from the injury or illness. Typically, you can find the deadlines for claims against the cruise in the disclaimers included in the ticket purchase.

Some cruise lines even have different time limits depending on the type of case, so be sure to contact an attorney immediately to learn what options you have.

Cruise cut short by food poisoning? Call Regan Zambri Long.

Food Poisoning Lawyer Sal Zambri working at deskSenior partner, VP, and founding member Salvatore Zambri has a track record of helping those wronged by negligent cruise lines, resulting in unfortunate bouts of food poisoning.

Recognized by Best Lawyers as 2020’s “Trial Lawyer of the Year” for products-liability litigation and 2021’s “best lawyer”, Partner Zambri and the rest of Regan Zambri Long are ready to set sail on your food poisoning case.

If you’ve gotten sick on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship, Celebrity Cruises, or another cruise line, call the cruise ship food poisoning lawyers of Regan Zambri Long today for a no-obligation, free consultation.

Regan Zambri Long
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Food Poisoning
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