Southrepps woman’s battle after cruise ship gas drama

A north Norfolk woman and her family are still waiting for compensation more than a year after a dream cruise turned into a nightmare when they were poisoned by gas in their cabin.

Sisters Jane Anderson, 55, from Southrepps, and Lisa Mills, 51, and their mother Ethel Mills, 79, were travelling aboard the 400-bed Sea Princess to celebrate Lisa's 50th birthday when they all became severely ill with headaches, sinus pain and sickness.

Towards the end of the cruise, they visited the ship's doctor and were horrified when they were diagnosed with exposure to potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas due to a leak in their cabin's air conditioning unit.

Owner Princess Cruises has admitted fault for the suffering caused, said the group's lawyer, Liz Tetzner, a travel law specialist at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors. Now she has urged the cruise operator to work with them quickly to ensure victims have access to the funds they need so that they can put the ordeal behind them.

The family set out on the two-week cruise, which cost just under �2,000 each, from Barbados in October, 2009.

Lisa Mills, who lives in Wymondham and cares for her mother, said: 'Within hours of boarding the ship things started to go horribly wrong. To start with, we were really disappointed with the conditions in our cabins as there was an overpowering smell of rotten eggs coming from the air conditioning unit.

'After just one night we began to feel horrendously poorly, we had unbearable headaches and our noses felt like they were going to explode.'

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Despite complaining about the awful smell in their cabin, the family say they were 'fobbed off' by staff.

Mrs Anderson said: 'They just kept not showing any worries about it and we put the illness down to sea sickness.'

The family were so worried about their health that they visited the ship's doctor on the penultimate day of the cruise and were horrified when they were diagnosed with exposure to hydrogen sulphide gas and were prescribed antiemetics and took painkillers. But despite the diagnosis, the ship's staff did not move the family from their cabin.

Ms Mills said: 'I feel we were treated appallingly, especially my mother as she had been unwell prior to holiday, and the break was supposed to help her recuperate but instead she felt even worse when we got back and we are all still suffering symptoms today.'

Lawyer Liz Tetzner said: 'The company should provide assurances that lessons have been learned from this appalling incident, and that no other passengers will suffer onboard vessels in the Princess Cruises fleet due to inadequate standards of health and safety.'

Princess Cruises were unavailable to comment.

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