How illnesses can spread on cruise ships

On Behalf of | May 4, 2021 | Maritime Wrongful Death |

Cruises can last for weeks or just a few hours. As popular as cruises are for long-term travel, they aren’t the only time that people find themselves eating aboard a cruise ship.

People ranging from businesses having a staff party to those hosting a wedding reception may book a chartered cruise ship. Others might head out on a dinner cruise or a sunset cruise with appetizers and drinks.

Few things are as exciting as watching the shifting vistas of the Pacific Ocean while enjoying a delicious meal. Unfortunately, cruise ships can sometimes spread illness quickly among passengers when they should just be serving dinner.

Sick staff members may not take time off

The operation of a cruise ship, whether locally operated or internationally bound, requires a dedicated staff of individuals who know they have to show up every day. Falling sick doesn’t magically mean there will be someone else to do a prep cook job.

Just like in the standard restaurant industry where people often mask their symptoms because they can’t afford to take a day off, those who work on cruise ships in food preparation and service may come to work while sick and spread their illness to others.

Cruise ships are often the perfect place for pathogen growth

Bacteria, fungi and other pathogens like dark, warm spaces with plenty of moisture. The interior of just about every space on a cruise ship meets those criteria.

Diseases spread so easily on cruise ships that the government tracks these issues independent of other sources of norovirus and food-borne illness. Unless staff members engage in proactive cleaning and sanitation, the galley or kitchen facilities on a ship could easily spread food-borne illnesses to multiple people.

People who are made ill or those who have lost a loved one due to improperly prepared food on a ship or sick staff members or passengers may sometimes have grounds for personal injury or wrongful death claims against the cruise line involved, especially if negligent cleaning or cooking practices played a role in the transmission of the illness.