Norovirus cruise class action allowed to file further claim

The lead applicant in a class action against a cruise company over a norovirus outbreak has been granted to leave to file a further amended statement of claim.

West Australian woman Julie McLean-Phillips was travelling on Carnival’s Sun Princess with family in December 2016 when a norovirus outbreak swept through the liner.

Ms McLean-Phillips alleges she spent the 13-day Southern Australia cruise seriously ill and/or caring for her seriously ill sister. She and other passengers are suing Carnival in relation to norovirus outbreaks on eight Sun Princess cruise journeys between 5 December 2016 and 26 February 2017 in Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Their suit alleges the company breached Australian Consumer Law by providing a product that was not fit for purpose, and that group members would not have bought tickets had they known about the likely risk of the impact of a norovirus outbreak.

In April, Federal Court Justice Jackman ordered Ms McLean-Phillips’ case be struck out because it failed to identify any deficient or issue with the services Carnival provided. An amended statement of claim was filed in May, followed by a further amended statement of claim on Friday, which Carnival had opposed.

“Ms McLean-Phillips made known to Carnival that the particular purpose for the acquisition of the services was to have a relaxing and pleasurable cruise in accordance with the itinerary and standards advertised by Carnival including the use of the facilities and amenities provided on board the ship and to be able to visit the various ports,” it reads.


It asserts that Carnival ought to have known that if it accepted passengers who had norovirus, there was a real risk of an outbreak, and if there was an outbreak, then there was a strong likelihood that the recreational experience of the group members would be frustrated or diminished in various ways.

It states Carnival should have:

  • informed group members about norovirus, its likely impact and the potential inability to be able to provide its promised services;
  • informed group members once it was aware a passenger or crew member had contracted norovirus, including the virus’s characteristics and the risk of infection; and
  • informed group members once it was aware a passenger or crew member on the immediately preceding cruise had contracted norovirus, including the virus’s characteristics and the risk of infection.

The statement argues that once Carnival knew of the infection, it should have offered group members the opportunity not to proceed with their journey, and offered a refund or alternative opportunities for a subsequent journey. If Carnival did not offer those alternatives, it should have implemented its policies and procedures to address the spread of the virus, or used a different cruise ship.

Group members are seeking refunds for their cruise tickets plus damages.

Carnival is also being sued over an outbreak of COVID-19 on board the Ruby Princess, which docked in Sydney in March 2020.

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