'It's like sailing on a plague ship': P&O cruise passengers struck down with norovirus winter vomiting bug


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The Independent Online

Passengers on a luxury cruise where illness has struck said it has been like sailing on a plague ship.

Those aboard the P&O liner Oriana on a 10-night Baltic cruise out of Southampton have reported as many as 400 passengers being struck down with the norovirus winter vomiting bug.

A spokeswoman for P&O's parent company Carnival said there had been "an incidence of a mild gastrointestinal illness" among the passengers.

She added that as of today, of 1,843 passengers, "the number of passengers with active symptoms is six".

But passenger Paul Gilman, 62, told the Daily Mail: "It has been outrageous from start to finish. People were falling like flies, yet the crew were trying to insist everything was fine.

"Everyone is saying, 'this is a plague ship'. It's a living nightmare."

Another passenger, Brian Weston, 67, from the Isle of Wight, told the Daily Mail: "It's been a shambles from start to finish. Passengers became ill almost immediately we set sail and the outbreak swept like wildfire through the ship.

"At one stage there were dozens and dozens of people falling ill, though the ship's senior officers were trying to play it down."

His wife, Denise, 60, told the newspaper: "A viral specialist who is a passenger told us the ship should not have set sail for 48 hours and should have gone through a deep clean."

Oriana left Southampton on December 4, with passengers paying up to £1,400 for their voyage.

The Carnival spokeswoman said today: "Enhanced sanitation protocols have already been implemented to help minimise transmission to other passengers. These comprehensive disinfection protocols have been developed by P&O Cruises in conjunction with UK and US public health authorities.

"The safety and comfort of passengers and crew is always our number one priority.

"As is currently standard procedure across our fleet, all the ship's passengers were provided with a precautionary health notice advising of widespread norovirus activity and the health measures to avoid contraction and spread, both on board and while ashore."