Princess Cruises passengers have rallied behind their favourite line after claims a Sydney law firm is planning to launch a class action over norovirus outbreaks.
9news alleged in an exclusive report that thousands of passengers who sailed on the Sun Princess between the end of 2016 to the beginning of 2017, could be eligible for cash compensation – a claim Princess cruises described as “absurd”.
Shine Lawyers alleged in the report it already had “hundreds of plaintiffs” – claiming it would be one of the largest suits filed in Australia.
But Princess Cruises, one of Australia’s favourite lines carrying over 250,000 passengers last year, received huge support on social media, with cruise fans on the Cruise Passenger Facebook page blaming poor passenger hygiene for the outbreaks.
Laurence Wright said: “It is very sad when the Captain has to remind passengers about basic personal hygiene. I was on the Sun last week and noticed 3 wash basins at the entrance to the Horizon Court for people to wash their hands, there were also bottles of hand sanitizers. “Passengers bring the virus on board and it has struck most lines around the world at one time or another.”
Thomas Janson, the travel law department manager at Shine Lawyers, told 9news, “(The case) revolves around an alleged failure of a duty of care by Carnival to properly and adequately sanitise the Sun Princess on each cruise and also to give adequate guidelines and safeguards to passenger in preventing them from coming down with norovirus.”
“Best practice dictates the ship should have been put into dry dock for up to 48 or 72 hours and cleaned thoroughly.
“What we’ve been told is that there were very short turnarounds, usually of around two hours, to clean the ship before the next lot of passengers and new crew boarded … that’s manifestly inadequate to sanitise a ship that’s the size of a skyscraper.”
But a Princess spokesperson said: “Princess Cruises leaves nothing to chance to maintain a healthy onboard environment with robust procedures that are in line with the highest international public health management standards.
“The risk of becoming ill while on a cruise holiday is tiny — in fact, a factor of just 0.02%.
“Last year, 265,000 Australians and New Zealanders cruised on Princess’s locally based ships during a period in which norovirus and influenza were at times widespread in the shoreside community in Australia.
“In spite of these challenges, the overwhelming majority of our guests enjoyed trouble free cruise holidays as did the more than 1 million Australians who cruised industry wide. It is absurd to suggest up to 16,000 people could have been affected by illness.
“Australians spend more nights on Princess ships than on any other cruise line and the high proportion of repeat business is testament to their well placed loyalty and confidence in the onboard environment.
The last outbreak of norovirus onboard the Sea Princess was earlier this year, and Leon Wallace, a passenger who was struck down by the illness, told the ABC in January that staff were “constantly cleaning” and sanitising everything”.
“I guess it’s the nature of it. So many people trapped on board a confined vessel,” Mr Wallace said.
Another passenger said Princess Cruises did all they could.
“Every night they disinfect everything,” he said. “You can’t stop people being people.”