Compensation claims expected after cruise ship breaks down in Baltic

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Compensation claims expected after cruise ship breaks down in Baltic

17th May 2011

An expert in travel claims has said she expects injured passengers to claim compensation after the luxury cruise ship they were holidaying on broke down in the Baltic Sea.

The MSC Opera - which left Southampton on 7 May with 1,800 guests on board for a ten-day trip taking in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Helsinki and St Petersburg - was towed into the Swedish port of Nynashamn near Stockholm after it lost all electrical power off the island of Gotland on Sunday morning.

Katherine Allen, head of the Travel and International Litigation department at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said: "Passengers were reportedly stranded in total darkness in dreadful conditions with no heating, hot food or drinks, running water or flushing toilets."

In a statement, the ship's Italian-owned operators said the engines had to be switched off after electrical power was unexpectedly lost in the Baltic Sea. Although the passengers were unable to receive hot meals, the company assured they were 'taken care of.'

The 400 British passengers on board the stricken vessel were flown into Bournemouth Airport from Stockholm yesterday. The ship's operators have since announced that all passengers will be given credit vouchers for the full value of their trip.

"To be stranded in the middle of the Baltic Sea in total darkness must have been a very unsettling experience," said Katherine, a partner with the firm. "To be denied access to hot food and drinks, not to mention running water and working toilet facilities must have been a very unwelcome addition to what was meant to be a relaxing and luxurious break. If those circumstances led to passengers suffering any kind of illness or injury, the operators should expect to pay compensation.

"An inquiry must now be conducted to ascertain exactly why a ship of this nature was able to lose all it's power," added Katherine. "Cruise ship operators are responsible for the safety of their guests and care needs to be taken to ensure that all necessary safety precautions are in place on-board their ships. This must include ensuring passengers are aware of emergency measures, should an incident such as this occur, that could potentially place guests in danger."

The MSC Opera's next excursion, due to sail out of Southampton today has been cancelled, affecting around 500 passengers.

How can Fentons help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to holiday accidents and illness. If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Read more: BBC News