Cruise passengers mutinous after vomiting bug outbreak

Dec 13, 2012

Many ill, others confined to their cabins in a bid to avoid catching the contagious Norovirus bug

Centre for Disease Control

IT'S HAPPENED again: a nasty outbreak of the winter vomiting bug Norovirus has hit a cruise liner, leaving hundreds of holiday-makers ill and many others cabin-bound as they try to avoid catching it.

It famously happened in January 2007, when 200 passengers were left writhing in their cabins during Pacific cruise aboard the  luxurious QE2, suffering from the virus.

This time, 378 holiday-makers – at the last count - have been struck by the virus on the Oriana cruise liner taking a Christmas Baltic tour of northern Europe. Just when they thought they'd be spending long, festive winter nights relaxing with a mulled wine, they've been reduced to bending over a bucket clutching a glass of Andrews Original Salts instead.

The majority of the 1,843 passengers have been left cabin-bound, on the advice of crew staff, and, some say, because they cannot bear the potent smell of vomit. It's a far cry from how the parent company, P&O Cruises, describes the ship in its sales brochure - "elegant," "attractive" and" "specially designed for British tastes".

What's worse, passengers have had to pay anything up to £2,799 each for the privilege. Frustrated and disappointed cruisers told the Daily Mail that they felt like they were on a "plague ship" and were angry. Passenger Brian Weston said some had become ill almost immediately, and people had become "pretty mutinous".

Another passenger told Channel 4 News that it was the "holiday from hell" with people bedridden and very few showing up for dinner, leaving the normally bustling dining and entertainment suites lifeless and desolate.

P&O Cruises told ITV today that, as of this afternoon, only six passengers showed "active symptoms" of the virus and that "enhanced sanitation protocols have already been implemented". The ship was due back in Southampton today after its ten-day cruise.

Meanwhile at home, the Health Protection Agency has issued new figures showing that three-quarters of a million British people have been struck down by Norovirus in the worst outbreak of the bug since records began. The HPA said 335 hospital wards have now been closed. Some schools have had to shut with between a quarter and half of pupils sick.

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