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British couple sue cruise operator after Norovirus outbreak

British couple sue cruise operator after Norovirus outbreak

A British couple are among 50 cruise liner passengers taking legal action against travel firm Thompson Cruises after being infected by the dangerous norovirus bug.

Jean Newcombe was treated to the £1,850 trip on the Island Escape liner by husband Kerry to celebrate her 69th birthday and their second wedding anniversary, but they quickly fell violently ill with the bug which effectively put an end to their Mediterranean trip.

Grandma-of-three Jean said: ‘It was a complete nightmare and the whole holiday was ruined as a result of the sickness. We’ll certainly remember it, but for all the wrong reasons’

‘I think there was a problem with hygiene as there were sick bags all over the ship. When a doctor saw me, he told me he was very busy.’

The couple, from Great Barr in Birmingham, represent just a fraction of the more than 250 passengers who have taken legal action against the Island Escape cruise liner since 2009. The ship, operated by Thompson Cruises, has been blighted by outbreaks of norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug.

Norovirus is a particular problem on cruise ships because of its extraordinary ability to survive for long periods of time both on surfaces and in the air. The virus, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, also spreads particularly quickly in confined communities such as cruise ships, airplanes and hospitals. Regardless of cruise operators efforts to introduce more stringent hygiene procedures outbreaks continue to occur due to the strength of the ‘super bug’. Typical alcohol-based hand sanitisers are not effective against norovirus, leading many professionals to suggest the use of alcohol-free products which contain the active ingredient necessary to kill the germ.

Clifton Melvin, Chairman of EcoHydra, a company which supplies alcohol-free products effective against norovirus said: ‘Ensuring your guests have the best possible experience has to be the leisure industry’s priority. Failure to do this results in a loss of business and reputation, not to mention the cost and adverse publicity of legal proceedings.’

‘Cruise operators must immediately improve their practices if they are to avoid future instances of norovirus. Until that happens passengers should arm themselves with a hand sanitiser effective against the virus before they board the ship.’ he added.

Once home the couple were offered a small amount of compensation but decided to take legal action along with other passengers. A spokesman for Thomson apologized to the couple but said it would be inappropriate to comment further due to the current legal proceedings.


  • EcoHydra’s Alcohol-free Instant Foam Hand Sanitiser contains the active ingredient Benzalkonium Chloride (BAC) which quickly and effectively kills Norovirus. Alcohol-based products DO NOT offer protection against Norovirus. EcoHydra is available in most Boots stores and online at