Canadians go to Cuban resorts and report getting sick

In 2004 I visited the Dominican Republic, a popular Caribbean destination for Canadians attempting to escape the winter cold, wet and grey. Dani and I took advantage of her spring break and Millennium Scholarship (probably not what they were meant for) and spent a week sitting on the beach, eating buffets and playing scrabble.

It was pretty fun.100B8930

My food paranoia was focused on ice cubes, foods held at the wrong temperature and fresh fruits and vegetables. I don’t think I ate anything that wasn’t fried and stuck to beer all week. Dani wasn’t nearly as ridiculous as I was (she rarely is) and she tried lots of stuff.

The week was a success; not only did we get some Vitamin D, neither of us had any foodborne illness symptoms.

Not quite what recent Canadians visiting Cuba have reported, according to Global News.

Unsanitary washrooms, unsafe food handling practices, unrelenting stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea: these are some of the complaints being reported about popular Canadian vacations destinations in Cuba promoted and operated by Sunwing Vacations of Toronto.

“It’s very severe, and I am struggling a week later,” said Amanda Klein of Medicine Hat, Alta., who recently returned from Cuba and says she is still experiencing stomach problems.

Klein, 26, spent a week with her boyfriend and two other Canadian couples at the Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba between Jan. 5 and 12.

But within days of the Canadians’ arrival, Klein says five of the six guests were violently ill with vomiting and diarrhea.

Klein says the group stopped eating at the all-inclusive resort–which they booked through Sunwing Vacations–after witnessing troubling food-handling practices.

“Numerous staff put their hands in food, licked their hands and put their hands in the food we were supposed to eat,” she said.

Klein is among a growing number of Sunwing customers who contacted Global News to complain about becoming ill at the Memories Paraiso Azul resort. Many have posted their accounts of poor conditions and illnesses on Facebook and on

But, Sunwing says it’s is not aware of a significant problem at the resort in Cuba.

“To date the hotel management team at Memories Paraiso Azul has advised us that they have not been made aware of any such cases,” said Jacqueline Grossman, senior director of marketing for Sunwing Vacations.

Grossman says the health and wellbeing of its customers is the company’s “primary concern.”

She acknowledged, however, that travelers have reported illnesses to Sunwing.

“In the past week our customer service department has received information from 10 clients complaining of gastro-illness during their stay at this resort over the last month,” Grossman said.

Sunwing travellers say they got sick at other resorts in Cuba in the last month, too.

‘Blood in the chicken cats around food’ Not a country song but Turkish resort where 595 fell ill in 2009

A family holiday to celebrate a honeymoon and a 40th birthday was ruined after a father-of-three was hospitalised with severe gastric illness. Swannell family, from West Yorkshire, had booked a week’s stay at the First Choice Holiday Village resort in Sarigerme, Turkey, when Mark Swannell, 46, fell seriously ill a few days into the break with diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and lethargy.

Mr Swannell, a bus driver from Dewsbury, said: ‘I was in a really bad way and Nicola had no option but to get the hotel doctor to come to our room as I felt like I was going to collapse. 

‘I was taken by wheelchair to the surgery, laid out on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to hospital – I couldn’t believe this was happening on our special family holiday.”

Back in 2009, an outbreak of gastric illness at the same resort led to £1.7m paid out in compensation, with 595 people affected by illness. 

Mr Swannell said that some of the food he was served at the hotel had been undercooked. On one occasion, he claims that he cut in to some chicken and noticed blood in the middle. Some food was also said not have to have been served at the correct temperature.

The family also claim that food was left uncovered for prolonged periods of time and appeared as though it had been served more than once. 

They said that cutlery, crockery and table linen used in the restaurant was not up to standard, while they saw cats in the public areas of the hotel and in the restaurant.

Mr Swannell had travelled to the Turkish resort on October 23, 2014 with his wife Nicola and their children Lewis, 13, Kyle, 13 and Keira, seven.

In the 2009 outbreak, over 400 holidaymakers within the group action suffered gastric illness with over 100 men, women and children suffering from infections including Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, Campylobacter and E-Coli. 

A spokesperson for TUI, who manage the First Choice and Thomson brands, told MailOnline Travel: ‘We are sorry to hear of the Swannell’s experience at the Holiday Village Turkey in October.

‘First Choice closely audits all resorts to which we operate to ensure that health, hygiene and comfort levels are maintained in line with industry standards.

‘As this case is now subject to legal proceedings it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.’

UK family endure Salmonella hell on Tunisia holiday

A Black Country holidaymaker has been awarded more than £2,600 compensation after a family getaway to grieve for a loved one ended in disaster.

salm.tunsiaJulie Roberts, from Walsall, had booked the special trip to Tunisia to spend time with her mother and sister following their loss.

But the family’s hopes of rest and relaxation turned sour when Julie was struck down with violent stomach cramps and severe diarrhea on the last day of the holiday.

It was only after returning to the UK that a visit to her GP confirmed she had contracted Salmonella while staying at the Dessole Riviera Resort in Port El Kantaoui.

The hotel has been blasted by reviewers on TripAdvisor, one of whom claims to have had “better hospital meals.”

British holidaymakers take legal action against Thomas Cook after father contracts Salmonella following stay at four-star Turkish resort

A family of five says its four-star holiday to Turkeyd was ruined by illness and one of them tested positive for Salmonella following their return to England.

TC_FC_2007_TURKEYrCheryll Jordan, 45, and her husband Ian, 46 have hired solicitors to investigate the cause of the illness and seek compensation from tour operator Thomas Cook if the hotel is found to be culpable.

The couple travelled with their three children to Hotel Marmaris Palace resort in Dalaman in June this year, expecting 10 days of sun, sea and relaxation.

But the couple say they are angry and upset after they and their seven-year-old son Lewis fell ill with sickness, diarrhoea and abdominal pains a few days into the trip.

It left them confined to their hotel room and still suffering symptoms four months on.

 Bailey, 13, and the couple’s other son Luckas, 5 were the only family members to escape illness. On returning home to Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, the family saw their GP and Ian was ‘appalled’ to be told he had tested positive for Salmonella.

Shigellosis or sunstroke?

This one time, when I was working at a greenhouse as a summer student, I called in sick and told the boss I had sunstroke (from working outside the previous day).

And then I went to a free lunch-time Red Hot Chili Peppers concert on Yonge St (that’s in Toronto, which is in Canada). I’ve matured since then.Red Hot Chili Peppers backstage before a gig in Boston, MA in August 1990. © B.C. Kagan

According to the UK Mirror  a per 250 Brits who visited a resort in Egypt were told by management that they were suffering from sunstroke – but it was actually shigellosis.

The Mirror revealed last month how First Choice customers caught the bug, thought to be shigella, at Coral Sea Waterworld, Sharm el Sheikh.

Victim Tracy Roscoe, 51, said she got a letter two days before she and her family were due to leave after spending most of the trip laid up.

“It stinks,” said Mrs Roscoe. “They tried to blame the sun when they knew it was a bug doing the rounds in the hotel.”

The letter – “Sunstroke And How To Stay Healthy” – referred to heat above 40C and how over-exposure and low fluids can cause sunstroke.

But many sick guests complained of poor food hygiene by staff.

Nick Harris of lawyers Simpson Millar – handling claims from 250 of them – said: “It’s outrageous if there was an attempt to intimate to customers that the massive sickness outbreak was caused by sunstroke, which is what the letter seems to imply.”

Sick vacationers from Cuba continue to land in Canada

This is sounding a lot less like norovirus.

Elizabeth Church of Toronto’s Globe and Mail reports that for the fifth time in less than a week, a Canadian airline is reporting several ill passengers on a flight returning from the vacation destination of Holguin in Cuba.

Although many travellers on each flight reported staying at the same resorts, at least four resorts have been identified amongst the travellers onboard the first four affected flights, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

But those resorts could have the same food suppliers; and at least one commenter to said he or she was tested upon arriving in Canada and tested positive for salmonella.

Michelle Larabie said she got sick on a plane returning to Toronto from Holguin on Jan. 13, a week earlier than the other flights. She said she began feeling nauseous while in the air, and her sickness and diarrhea lasted nearly a week.

Visitors to Cuba returning to Canada with gastrointestinal illnesses

The Ottawa Citizen reports three flights from Cuba to Canada had at least 39 passengers returning with a variety of gastrointestinal illnesses.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said Friday two flights that arrived in Ottawa from Cuba on Tuesday and Friday had 19 passengers suffering from symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and fever, while a Thursday flight from Cuba to Toronto had 20 passengers suffering from the same symptoms.

“In all cases, quarantine officers assessed the situation, determined that the passengers did not have a disease listed in the Quarantine Act and thus did not pose a significant public health risk and passengers were released,” said Sylwia Gomes in an email reply to the Citizen.

The sick passengers on the three flights came from at least four different resorts, she said.

Early Friday morning, an Air Transat flight from Cuba carrying 260 passengers was detained at the Ottawa International Airport after 12 people complained of a stomach illness. The ill passengers were all from the same resort, so the concern forced Ottawa’s fire HAZMAT team to respond to the early morning incident.

Passengers were assessed and then cleared after nearly 20 minutes of examination, said a spokesman for the Ottawa ambulance service.

Risk comparisons are risky, and sick people are not statistics

Some 1,200 people have, according to legal-types in the U.K., been sickened after staying at the First Choice-owned Holiday Village Turkey resort since 2005.

Although First Choice has paid out over £100,000 to 34 claimants who stayed at the hotel in 2005 and 2007, solicitors say it has "refused to accept responsibility" over more recent cases.

First Choice said they were in negotiations with the law firm to resolve the issue amicably and couldn’t comment further, but they did manage to keep talking and do further damage:

"First Choice would like to take this opportunity to assure all its customers that we closely audit all the resorts to which we operate, including the Holiday Village Turkey, to ensure that health, hygiene and comfort levels are maintained.

"Reports of sickness in 2010 were minimal; in particular, out of the 46,000 customers who have stayed there this year, only 0.42 per cent have reported minor ailments such as a mild stomach upset.

"This figure is extremely low, and has been substantiated by the Health Protection Agency, who have confirmed that they have received no reports of infection at the property this year.”

Telling 193 paying customers that their barfing was a statistical anomaly isn’t going to win future customers. And won’t help in court.

Vacationing Brits sue after salmonella sickness in Turkey

A group of 107 angry travellers say they fell ill after eating under-cooked food and using a swimming pool contaminated by human waste at Sarigerme Holiday Village in Dalaman, Turkey in 2009.

The group is suing First Choice Holidays and Flights for compensation.

A High Court writ claims buffet food was lukewarm and items like chicken were not cooked properly.

Flies and wasps also allegedly infested food areas and a pool had human waste in it.

Last night a First Choice spokeswoman said their lawyers are in talks with a no-win no-fee legal firm to resolve the case.

"We closely audit all the resorts to which we operate, including the Holiday Village Turkey, to ensure that health, hygiene and comfort levels are maintained."