Around 150 passengers hit by norovirus on Queen Mary 2 during luxury Christmas cruiseAround 200 of 2,600 passengers have been taken illMany started 'being sick and suffering diarrhoea within hours of leaving port'
08:39 GMT, 28 December 2012
Hundreds of passengers on a luxury Christmas cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2 have been struck down by the winter vomiting bug, it has emerged.
Around 200 of the 2,600 holidaymakers on Cunard’s flagship 550million ship have been reportedly taken ill by the infectious norovirus.
Many paid more than 5,000 each for the 13-night tour of the Caribbean on the world’s biggest ocean liner, which left New York on Saturday.
Hundreds of passengers on a luxury Christmas cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2 have been struck down by the winter vomiting bug, it has emerged
But last night guests revealed there was a ‘less than festive’ feel to the cruise after guests started being sick and suffering diarrhoea within hours of leaving port.
They said they were unable to shake hands with fellow guests on Christmas Day to wish them a Merry Christmas, and those attending church services were given Holy Communion by a vicar in gloves.
One female passenger told the Daily Mail that passengers were unhappy that there were reportedly cases on board the liner before she reached New York, which suggested it had not been properly cleaned prior to holidaymakers embarking.
‘The mood is very sombre, it’s not the Christmas atmosphere we were hoping for,’ the guest said.
‘There is a sense of foreboding, with everyone worried that they will be next to come down with the illness.
‘The crew are trying their best, continually washing down handrails and lifts, but more cases are being reported each day, it’s not at all enjoyable.’
Last year the ship, known as the ‘queen of the seas’, was branded ‘filthy’ by US sanitation inspectors following a spot check.
They found ‘extremely dirty’ water and floor tiling in the splash pool, a human hair in the ice machine and live fruit flies and cockroaches in a storage locker on board.
Guests revealed there was a 'less than festive' feel to the cruise after guests started being sick and suffering diarrhoea within hours of leaving port
Those diagnosed with the illness have been quarantined to their cabins, while other passengers have been encouraged to only eat in the main dining room or order food to their rooms.
All salt and pepper shakers have been removed from tables and butter is being served in covered packets.
Shops on board have been told to remove make-up samples and any other promotional purchases or gifts which could be handled by customers.
The liner is currently in the Dominican Republic and is due to make stops in St Lucia, Barbados and St Kitts, before returning to New York on January 4.
While passengers claim hundreds of people have been affected, a spokeswoman for Carnival, which owns the 1132ft-long ship, said there were just 18 people with ‘active symptoms’ on board yesterday.
She said there had been ‘no raised levels’ on the previous cruise, but later admitted that around five per cent – 130 – current passengers had already been affected.
They have been asked to comply with doctors’ orders, by staying inside their cabins, ordering food via room service and not going on trips ashore, she added.
‘Enhanced sanitation protocols have been employed to help minimize transmission to other passengers,’ Michele Andjel, spokeswoman for Carnvial, said.
‘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 whilst ashore.’
The Queen Mary II is the largest and most expensive ocean liner ever built. She entered service in January 2004 and her facilities include fifteen restaurants and bars, five swimming pools, a casino, a ballroom, a theatre, and the first planetarium at sea.
Passengers on the liner are the latest cruise ship guests to be struck down by the vomiting bug.
A fortnight ago the Daily Mail revealed how hundreds of passengers on a tour of European Christmas Markets threatened to stage a sit in after their P&O cruise was plagued by the virus.