Can You Sue a Cruise Ship for Food Poisoning?

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While an adventure on a cruise ship can be a fun vacation, there are also unique risks that come with this form of travel. Overcrowding in confined spaces, negligent food handling, and dirty facilities can all lead to foodborne illnesses. If you become sick from food poisoning on a cruise ship, a food safety lawyer can help you understand your rights and legal options to claim compensation. Contact Keep Food Safe to learn more.

  • Because of overcrowding and improper food handling onboard, cruise ship food poisoning is a risk often overlooked by eager travelers. 
  • Cruise ship food poisoning symptoms, often mistaken for motion sickness, require immediate medical attention, isolation, and thorough documentation.
  • Cruise ship food poisoning victims may be entitled to compensation if their illness is caused by unsafe food handling and preparation.
  • The legal claims process in cruise ship food poisoning cases requires investigating jurisdictional nuances different from those in cases that arise on the mainland of your home country.
  • Cruise ship food poisoning is frequently caused by pathogens like Norovirus, E. coli, and Salmonella, and exacerbated by buffet-style dining, contaminated water, and improper food storage on ships.

When preparing for a cruise, you’re likely thinking about what outfits to pack, what excursions to take at your destination ports, and all the fun activities available on the cruise ship. However, spending time on a cruise ship also presents risks you may not have considered. Foodborne illnesses and other outbreaks on cruise ships are common when the proper precautions are not taken. It is always important to take proper food safety when traveling into account even when on a cruise ship.

When your cruise ship is overcrowded, and the crew fails to handle food safely, it’s possible to suffer from food poisoning caused by viral or bacterial infections. You may be entitled to compensation if you or a loved one experienced a foodborne illness while on a cruise ship. An experienced attorney can help you file a cruise ship food poisoning lawsuit to recover damages and hold the cruise line responsible. Contact Keep Food Safe to connect with a food safety lawyer today.

What Steps Should I Take if I Become Sick on a Cruise Ship?

Do not take it lightly if you experience food poisoning symptoms on a cruise ship. It’s easy to dismiss the early signs of food poisoning as motion sickness or an upset stomach, but you may be suffering from a highly contagious foodborne illness. As time passes, you may have worsening symptoms, including:

Here are steps you should take if you experience food poisoning symptoms while on a cruise: 

You can also contact a cruise ship food poisoning attorney to see if you qualify to file a lawsuit against the cruise company. Following these steps and seeking professional legal advice can put you on the right track to receive compensation for medical bills and other damages caused by the illness.

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Can You Sue for Cruise Ship Food Poisoning?

You may be entitled to compensation if your food poisoning was caused by negligence. The ship’s staff is required to handle food safely and take precautions to prevent the spread of illnesses. If they fail to fulfill this duty and you become sick as a result, you can file a lawsuit to claim compensation for your losses.

However, establishing that a cruise ship staff’s actions or inactions caused food poisoning can be challenging. Recording the symptoms and details of your illness can help your attorney build a strong case and put you in the best position to receive a favorable settlement offer.

How Long Do I Have to File a Cruise Ship Food Poisoning Lawsuit?

Because jurisdictions and rules vary between cruise lines, how long you have to file your lawsuit will depend on your circumstances and the details of your cruise contract. Some cruise lines have notices or agreements about where you can bring a legal claim and what statute of limitations apply. To make sure you don’t miss the deadline to take legal action, consult a food safety lawyer as soon as possible.

Compensation in a Cruise Ship Food Poisoning Lawsuit

Victims of cruise ship food poisoning can claim different types of compensation for all the ways they suffered from the illness, including economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are financial losses caused by the illness, while non-economic damages represent physical, mental, and emotional hardships.

Examples of possible damages you can recover include:

In some cases, you may also receive punitive damages, which are meant to punish serious misconduct and to deter the defendant from repeating the same actions. If the court determines that the cruise line’s negligence was particularly egregious, you may be awarded additional compensation through punitive damages.

How Can a Cruise Ship Food Poisoning Lawyer Help?

Navigating the legal process can be complicated, especially with cases involving cruise ships. A food safety lawyer has the knowledge and skills needed to prove the cruise line’s negligence, negotiate a fair settlement with their insurance company, or bring a legal claim for fair financial compensation.

Without a legal professional on your side, you may feel pressured to accept an amount that is far less than you deserve. Keep Food Safe can connect you with a cruise ship attorney who will help you pursue the maximum amount for your damages.

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If You Have Been Made Sick by Another Company’s Fault!

Common Causes of Food Poisoning on a Cruise Ship

There are several factors that increase the risk of food poisoning on a cruise ship. Common causes include:

Additionally, food is often served buffet-style on cruise ships, which means more people have access to it. If one person is infected with an illness and touches the food or serving utensils, it can quickly spread to others on the ship.

Norovirus on Cruise Ships

Norovirus, sometimes known as the “cruise ship virus,” is an extremely contagious pathogen that can spread quickly on a cruise ship. Because of the close proximity of people on the ship, norovirus outbreaks happen faster on cruise ships than on land. It is often spread through contaminated food or water and by touching contaminated surfaces on the ship.

Other Common Types of Foodborne Illnesses on Cruise Ships

While many people have heard about norovirus outbreaks on cruises, there are several other types of foodborne illnesses that occur on cruise ships.

E. coli

Escherichia coli, more often referred to as E. coli, is a bacteria found in raw or undercooked foods. If exposed to this bacteria, people may suffer from stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It’s possible to become ill with E. coli after eating undercooked beef, unwashed vegetables, or drinking contaminated water on a cruise ship.


Salmonella is another type of bacteria that can lead to diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever if it enters the digestive system. It’s mostly found in raw or undercooked chicken, eggs, and other poultry.


Another bacteria that can cause food poisoning is Listeria, which is commonly found in cold deli meats, soft cheeses, and deli salads. Symptoms of Listeria include minor to severe intestinal issues, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. This bacteria is particularly harmful to older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a virus spread by ingesting contaminated food or water. It causes liver inflammation, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, and dark urine. On a cruise ship, it can be transmitted due to poor sanitation or hygiene when handling or eating food.

Legionnaires’ Disease

Caused by the Legionella bacteria, Legionnaires’ disease is a serious lung infection that leads to cough, fever, shortness of breath, and headaches. Some people also experience nausea and diarrhea while infected. The bacteria is transmitted through contaminated water and breathing in small droplets that contain Legionella, making it very contagious in tight quarters.

Recent Cruise Ship Food Poisoning Outbreaks

There have been many food poisoning incidents on cruise ships in recent years, including norovirus outbreaks. In June 2023, the Viking Neptune, a Viking Cruises ship, reported that 110 of the 838 passengers became ill with the norovirus and suffered from abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Other cruise ship outbreaks reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:

For the latest news on gastrointestinal illness outbreaks on cruise lines, visit the CDC update page for international cruise ships.

Speak With a Cruise Ship Food Poisoning Lawyer

If you contracted food poisoning on a cruise ship, you know it can seriously affect your health. Keep Food Safe can connect you with a dedicated food safety attorney who can help you fight for compensation for your suffering. Contact us to speak with a lawyer who can explain your legal rights and how you can move forward with your case.

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