A woman who suffered a holiday from hell on board a luxury cruise ship is taking legal action against the tour operators.
Kathleen Maher was struck down by a gastric illness which swept through passengers on board the Island Escape.
She was violently sick three days into the week-long Mediterranean cruise to celebrate her 50th birthday and suffered stomach pains, diarrhoea and headaches for the rest of the trip.
Two years later, she says she is still feeling ill-effects.
Kathleen said: “I expected to have a brilliant time soaking up the sun with my husband John and family, visiting some amazing places around the Mediterranean and enjoying the atmosphere on the ship.
“Instead I was really ill and I still suffer from ill effects even now. My stomach has never been the same and I still have bad cramps.”
Kathleen and other passengers claim they were served lukewarm and undercooked food during the cruise and that their cabins were not clean.
She said: “Some of the food just did not taste hot enough.
“I was really disgusted with my cabin as there was dirt and dust under the bed and the bathroom tiles were grimy. They really should have taken this ship out of service.”
Legal firm Irwin Mitchell has issued a group action against Sunshine Cruises Ltd and Thomson’s TUI UK Limited, who have denied liability in respect of Kathleen and 13 other passengers.
Elizabeth Tetzner of Irwin Mitchell said: “Gastric illness can have a devastating impact on people’s health and the effects of it cannot be underestimated as we have seen numerous cases where victims have been left with long-term health problems after being affected by illness.”
Kathleen was treated by the ship’s doctor while on board and was so ill she had to be confined to her cabin for 24 hours, missing a day trip to Rome.
When she returned home, Kathleen also had to take an extra week off work.
The lawyer added: “We originally acted for 27 passengers on board the cruise liner in 2012 and have successfully resolved claims for 13 of them.
“We have now started formal legal proceedings for the remaining 14 clients whose claims have not been settled.”
A spokesperson for Thomson TUI UK Limited said: “We are sorry to hear of Ms Maher’s experience on board the Island Escape.
“As this case is now subject to legal proceedings it would be inappropriate for us to comment further. The ultimate priority for Island Cruises is the health, safety and comfort of all our customers. We operate stringent health and hygiene procedures in line with industry standards.”