The luxury cruise ship Dawn Princess / Getty

More than 200 people have fallen ill on the Dawn Princess near New Zealand

More than 200 passengers on board a luxury cruise ship have been confined to their cabins to avoid a “pukefest” after they were struck down by an outbreak of norovirus.

Reports said the passengers were among around 1,500 on the Dawn Princess, which has just left for Australia after cruising in New Zealand waters. The ship, which had been sailing off the Fiordland National Park, is operated by Princess Cruises, a division of Miami-based Carnival Corp.

Alistair Humphrey, the health officer for the city of Canterbury on New Zealand’s South Island, said staff had carried out a series of tests that had confirmed the cause of the illness. Norovirus routinely causes vomiting and diarrhea. The problems can last for up to three days.

“The number of cases is declining. They're still seeing a few coming in but not as many,” he told the New Zealand Herald. “They stand at a little over 200 people altogether.”

Princess Cruises said in a statement that affected passengers were isolated in their cabins until they were considered no longer contagious and that crew members had disinfected surfaces such as railings, door handles and lift buttons. Crew members had also encouraged passengers to wash their hands correctly and use sanitising gels, the cruise operator said. 

“Most passengers on Dawn Princess are unaffected by the illness,“ the cruise line said. "It takes relatively few cases to be reported onboard for even more stringent sanitation levels to be implemented. This happened on Dawn Princess to contain any spread of the illness. The containment response worked effectively and the number of new cases declined significantly.”

The Cruise Law News blog said a “pukefest” happened on the 261m ship two years ago. Then, 114 passengers and 11 crew fell ill.

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