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Colchester/UK: Lawyers instructed to investigate ‘possible safety failings’ on board Marco Polo cruise ship

PUBLISHED: 22:05 05 March 2014 | UPDATED: 22:05 05 March 2014

James Swinstead

James Swinstead

Archant

Passengers who were injured when a freak wave hit a cruise ship, killing an elderly passenger from Colchester, have instructed lawyers to investigate possible safety failings.

James Swinstead, 85, was killed and several other people were injured when water crashed through restaurant windows on the Marco Polo as storms hit the English Channel on February 14.

Afterwards, Mr Swinstead’s widow, Helen, from Colchester, said the ship was “badly maintained” and other passengers supported this claim.

Marine lawyers have now been instructed by a number of passengers who raised concerns over issues including safety announcements on board before the incident.

Clive Garner, head of Irwin Mitchell’s travel litigation team, said: “We have spoken to a number of concerned passengers who were injured while returning to England on board the Marco Polo.

“We are beginning an investigation into the incident to determine whether more should have been done to protect passengers and prevent them from being injured.

“We would expect there to be clear procedures that should have been followed in very heavy seas which should have reduced the risk of injury to both passengers and crew.

“It is far too early to draw any conclusions about whether any more could and should have been done to safeguard passengers on the Marco Polo, but we will be carefully investigating all the circumstances surrounding this incident.”

The Marco Polo was heading to the port of Tilbury in Essex with 735 passengers on board when it was hit by a large wave.

The 22,000 tonne vessel, operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV), had been on a 42-night voyage and was heading back from the Azores.

Passengers have told lawyers that waves led to glass windows shattering in the dining room and injuring a number of people, Irwin Mitchell said.

A spokesman for CMV said the company would not comment on the allegations due to ongoing investigations.

He added: “CMV consider passenger safety to be of paramount importance and regularly carry thousands of passengers on their cruises without incident.”

The spokesman said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency had confirmed the ship was fit to continue sailing following an inspection on Sunday.

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