Cruise ship sickness strikes another liner

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The Independent US

The cruise ship curse has struck again. Barely a week after two Florida-based cruise ship companies were forced to cancel voyages because hundreds of their passengers went down with a violent strain of gastro-intestinal flu, another shipload of hapless customers has returned to port feeling distinctly the worse for wear.

The cruise ship curse has struck again. Barely a week after two Florida-based cruise ship companies were forced to cancel voyages because hundreds of their passengers went down with a violent strain of gastro-intestinal flu, another shipload of hapless customers has returned to port feeling distinctly the worse for wear.

More than 200 people suffered bouts of diarrhoea, vomiting and high fever on board the Carnival Fascination, which docked in Miami on Monday after completing a less than idyllic cruise around the Caribbean.

Some passengers were so sick they could not immediately leave the boat.

The epidemic is not considered dangerous – the flu symptoms are alarming but invariably subside after a few days – but it has been terrible publicity for the affected cruise lines, which include a subsidiary of the Walt Disney entertainment empire.

Government health inspectors swarmed all over the Carnival Fascination after it docked, but found nothing to prevent it leaving again almost immediately with another 2,000-plus passengers. Staff on all the affected liners have spent hours scrubbing down every surface in the hope of eradicating the virus – an exercise that some health experts say is futile as long as passengers come on board carrying the sickness within them.

Two companies, Disney and Holland America, have cancelled cruises rather than risk another outbreak. Carnival Fascination's owners said they saw no reason to follow suit, but did not reveal whether they were stocking extra supplies of lavatory paper.

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