Saturday, May 28, 2005

‘Oceana’ hit by ‘Aurora' type virus

A highly contagious virus has struck down scores of passengers on board another P&O luxury cruise ship.

About 200 passengers on board the Oceana cruise ship have contracted the norovirus, which caused chaos on P&O’s Aurora vessel in 2003 and led to a diplomatic incident with Spain.

The company said that about 10 per cent of the 2,015 passengers on board the five-year-old Oceana had been affected by the 24-hour bug, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting. Around 130 passengers are still ill and have been isolated in their cabins.

The ship left Southampton on May 19 for a 17-night Mediterranean cruise. It is due back in port on June 5 and is today travelling from Naples to the Croatian port of Dubrovnik.

A spokeswoman for the firm said the 77,000-tonne vessel was undergoing an “extensive programme” of sanitation and disinfection to try and stop the spread of the virus.
She said:

“There has been an incident of gastrointestinal illness among passengers on board the current sailing of Oceana. Passengers unwell are being asked to isolate themselves in their cabins for as long as necessary.”

She said that those who were isolated in their cabins would receive compensation and added that American research had shown that the chances of catching the virus on land was 1 in 12 compared to 1 in 4,000 on a cruise.

The spokeswoman said the virus had probably been brought on board by a passenger. In 2003, 500 out of 1,800 passengers aboard the Aurora suffered serious stomach upsets caused by what was then a new variant of the norovirus.

The £200 million ship was banned from docking in Greece while Spain sealed its borders with Gibraltar for the first time since 1985, after the ship docked here.

Related Links:

Information on Mediterranean Cruises Online with Lastminute.com

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