While the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the cruise ship industry for a few years, the sector appears ready for recovery.
In its recent industry report, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) found that 85% of travelers who have previously gone on a cruise vacation said they would go on a cruise again this year – 6% higher than pre-pandemic levels. CLIA is also anticipating cruise passenger volume to hit 106% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019 this year.
But travelers should be advised that cruise ships can be dangerous places. One of the potential risks is Legionnaires’ disease, an infection easily spread within cruise ships.
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial infection that affects the lungs. It enters the body by inhaling the legionella bacterium present in water droplets. The bacterium thrives in freshwater but can also contaminate water tanks, hot tubs, and even the cooling towers used for air conditioning systems.
The disease has an incubation period between two and 10 days after exposure and manifests through the following symptoms:
- Muscle pain
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Coughing up blood
In the worst cases, the disease can also lead to neurological symptoms such as confusion and a lower-than-normal heart rate.
Cruise ships as breeding grounds for Legionnaires’ disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cruise ships are at high risk of carrying legionella bacterium, especially if they fail to replace any stagnant water they have on their onboard plumbing systems. Cruise ships have no shortage of water systems that can turn water into inhalable droplets – showers, fountains and hot tubs, for instance – and these can spread the bacterium to unsuspecting guests.
Can I sue a cruise if I get Legionnaires’ disease?
Cruise ships are responsible for the health and safety of their passengers, which means they’re also accountable if guests contract Legionnaires’ disease. An infected guest looking to sue the cruise company must prove that the business was negligent in ensuring the onboard water is clean and safe. A guest also has a stronger case against the cruise company if others, such as travelers and even the cruise’s staff, get infected.
Cruise ship claims are notoriously complex, so you don’t want to pursue them on your own. If you’re a previous guest of a cruise ship and you contracted Legionnaires’ disease, consider hiring an experienced attorney that can fight for you and secure adequate compensation.