Staffordshire's local Web site, thisisstaffordshire.co.uk, says the claims are being made by 205 holidaymakers who sailed on the 55,000-ton, 1,506-passenger Thomson Dream between May and October 2010, immediately following its acquisition from Costa Cruises. At the time, Cruise Critic reported a number of teething problems on the ship, including faulty plumbing and dodgy air conditioning.
The claims relate to issues with the plumbing and the resulting smells, as well as the air conditioning and, separately, standards of food hygiene. No-win, no-fee law firm Irwin Mitchell, which handles a lot of high-profile holiday claims, has, according to the report, advised disgruntled passengers that they may be able to claim back 70% of the cost of their holidays.
Although Thomson admitted at the time that the ship had problems, and set about fixing them, it is disputing the claim, or at least the hygiene element of it. A statement provided by the line to Cruise Critic said: "Thomson Cruises refutes any claims of sickness on board Thomson Dream during May - December 2010, caused by a lack of consideration to hygiene practices on the ship. ... In line with Health Protection Agency Guidelines, we continuously monitor all the ships in our fleet to ensure that the strictest health, safety, hygiene and comfort levels our customers expect are maintained.
"We would be happy to address the issues raised by the passengers directly, however as they have decided to seek legal advice and as the matter is now the subject of legal proceedings it would be inappropriate for us comment further."
Thomson Dream, according to the company, scored customer satisfaction ratings of 90% or more for service, entertainment and food during 2011. For an old, mass-market ship, it's doing well among Cruise Critic reviewers, too; of 236 member reviews, 74% have given it a four-star or better rating.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor