- Couple say they may never get on another cruise after their holiday illness nightmare
- Food poisoning on-board Thomson Holiday Western Discovery Cruise
- Hygiene issues in cruise ship restaurant to blame?
A couple who contracted a severe gastric illness while on a Mediterranean cruise have been awarded compensation from the holiday firm TUI.
Mr and Mrs Chinn were aboard the Western Discovery Cruise between September and October 2010 when they became ill. As their respective conditions worsened on their return home to Devon, both were eventually diagnosed with illnesses caused by the pathogen Campylobacter.
Food and drink consumed on-board only
Prior to their departure, the Chinns had paid extra to upgrade from full-board to all-inclusive. This covered the provision of drinks as well as food, all of which the couple consumed on board the vessel only.
The problem was that the food was brought out of the kitchen and left for some time in a serving area before it was brought to our table,” Mrs Chinn said in a statement.
“By that time my soup was warm and my main meal wasn’t as hot as it should have been. I had a pork chop that was so tough and chewy I couldn’t eat it.”
They were hoping to return from their holiday cruise refreshed and relaxed, but they were so debilitated more time off was needed.
Unusual behaviour by ship’s staff
Mrs Chinn noted that one night she and her husband saw someone spraying something onto the carpets. “We had never seen this being done before. On the last night aboard the ship all the staff were in their white clothes, hats and gloves. Even though it was supposed to be a self-service buffet, [the staff] were putting food onto people’s plates.
“We had roast chicken on the bone with gravy. The following morning we both complained about not feeling 100% – neither of us felt like eating. [When we went for coffee] the staff were again in their whites serving the food.”
Back home – and conditions worsen
On leaving the ship, Mrs Chinn experienced stomach pains and nausea, later suffering from severe stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Mr Chinn had also started to feel unwell, sustaining much the same symptoms as his wife.
The couple visited their GP, who expressed greater concerns for Mr Chinn, whom the doctor said was dehydrated.
Having provided stool samples and been prescribed medication, the Chinns were both diagnosed with Campylobacter: a bacterium frequently found in raw meat, particularly chicken, and a major cause of food poisoning from poor preparation and handling.
Mrs Chinn said weight loss took its toll on them both. “We both looked and felt terrible. Family members stayed away thinking we could be infectious, and when we did see them they were shocked by the way we looked.”
Holiday firm seemed uninterested
Pursuing the Chinns’ claim for compensation – it was suspected that both had contracted gastrointestinal infections caused by the consumption of contaminated food and/or due to unhygienic conditions – Simon Lomax of Simpson Millar LLP said the couple had been badly let down.
“Mrs Chinn rang Thomson during the first week of their illness and the company didn’t ring back, even though it had promised to do so,” Simon said.
“They were hoping to return from their holiday cruise refreshed and relaxed, but they were so debilitated more time off was needed.”
Praise for Simpson Millar LLP
With TUI admitting liability in February 2013, Mr and Mrs Chinn were delighted with our help. “[It was an] excellent service [which] far exceeded my expectations,” said Mrs Chinn, who received £6,500 compensation. “Simon Lomax was genuinely professional, with a very good understanding of all aspects of my case.”
Accepting an award of £5,500, Mr Chinn agreed, calling Simpson Millar LLP’s service “fantastic from start to finish… Simon was truly genuine, very easy to speak to and handled our case thoroughly.”
“The illness has put me off cruising, which I used to love,” Mrs Chinn concluded. “It will be a long time, if ever, before we go on another.”
Top Tips To Take Away
- Take special care with any food you order on a holiday cruise – it must be hot, fully cooked and kept well away from other foods, especially if they’re uncooked
- Campylobacter, a pathogen which can cause severe gastroenteritis and related problems, is often found in poorly-prepared and handled food causing holiday food poisoning illness on cruise ships