Cruise passenger launches legal battle after falling ill on ‘nightmare’ journey

Cruise Ship Thomson Spirit.
Cruise Ship Thomson Spirit.

An angry ship passenger from Hartlepool is fighting a ground-breaking legal battle over a “nightmare” luxury cruise.

A group of holidaymakers are suing travel giants TUI UK Ltd after suffering sickness and diarrhoea during their May 2009 cruise aboard the Thomson Spirit.

He noticed the presence of flies which he attributed to dirty plates, and cutlery not being cleared away.

David Allan QC

They also want thousands of pounds in damages for their distress, inconvenience and ruined holidays.

Ronald Rigg, 67, survived the voyage without falling ill but is now suing for “loss of enjoyment of his holiday”.

Mr Rigg had decided to eat most of his meals in the main restaurant “because he had concerns about the lack of hygiene in the buffet restaurant”, said his barrister David Allan QC.

He added: “He noticed the presence of flies which he attributed to dirty plates, and cutlery not being cleared away.

“Food was left uncovered for long periods without being replaced.”

However, TUI is fighting the passengers every inch of the way, saying it did all it could to control an outbreak of noroviris.

The outbreak, the company insists, had nothing to do with poor food hygiene but was brought on board by an infected passenger.

Mr Allan said the two-week cruise had cost a “substantial sum” for many of the claimants.

He added: “Many had been on previous Thomson cruises and knew of the standard of service and food to expect.

“Their evidence indicates that, whereas previously they were happy with the quality of holiday provided by Thomson, this cruise fell short, and not only because of the onset of illness”.

The ill-fated cruise started at Ibiza and finished at Newcastle, via Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco, France and Belgium.

The hearing is continuing at Central London County Court.