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Plague cruise: Passengers 'angry and mutinous' after they are told to stay in their cabins as winter vomiting strikes down 400
At least 150 on board P&O's Oriana reported being ill in the wake of a vomiting bug outbreakOne passenger on board the liner, which was touring Europe's Christmas markets, described the trip as a 'cruise to hell'
The cruise operator has said just nine cases of norovirus had been confirmed
22:56 GMT, 12 December 2012
It was billed as a luxurious cruise around the romantic and atmospheric traditional Christmas markets of northern Europe.
Instead hundreds of passengers have been left quarantined in their cabins after a severe outbreak of norovirus – the winter vomiting bug – swept through the P&O cruise liner Oriana.
Travellers who paid up to 1,429 for the Baltic trip say the liner has turned into a 'plague ship' and describe themselves as angry and mutinous.
Outbreak: Passengers on board the P&O cruise liner have been struck down by the winter vomiting bug
Passengers also claim they have been told that if they catch the virus it is their own fault for not being clean enough
They say around 400 holidaymakers have
been struck down by varying forms of the vomiting bug and claim they
were rudely ordered to stay in their cabins.
Oriana has been hit by bouts of
norovirus several times in recent years and in 2009 one passenger on a
Baltic cruise died from the disease soon after docking in Southampton.
In the latest outbreak some passengers
say they have waited hours to be seen by the ship's doctor, while
others claim they have had to put up with an overwhelming stench of
vomit below decks.
And one man, who had to be treated by the ship's
doctor, was told he had racked up more than 1,000 in medical bills.
Passengers also claim they have been told that if they catch the virus it is their own fault for not being clean enough.
Although cruise bosses say no staff are sick, one passenger said they found a steward vomiting in her cabin toilet.
Oriana, captained by Robert Camby, has called at Bruges, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and Hamburg and is due to return to Southampton
Marred: The Oriana set sail on December 4 for the Christmas markets of Hamburg (pictured), Zeebrugge, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Oslo
Sickness: Earlier this year passengers on board the Fred Olsen liner Boudicca had their trip to the Canary Islands ruined by a suspected norovirus outbreak
Up to 300 passengers angry at a lack
of information about the situation congregated to demand action only to
be told by an officer that it was an illegal meeting and they should
Those on board said passengers began
to fall ill on the first day of the cruise and it quickly mushroomed
into an epidemic. More cleaners and two nurses are said to have gone on
board to help and extra sick bags were placed in corridors.
Passenger Brian Weston, 67, a retired
security officer from the Isle of Wight, said: 'It's been a shambles
from start to finish. Passengers became ill almost immediately we set
sail and the outbreak swept like wildfire throughout the ship.
'Feelings have been running high and people are pretty mutinous.'
P&O Cruises has said only a tiny
minority of the 1,843 passengers on board have become ill, but
travellers have disputed this and say compensation claims will be
'It's outrageous': Paul and Carolyn Gilman pictured in front of the cruise liner
Mr Weston added: '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, a finance
manager, said: '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
thorough deep clean.
'However we set sail the same day and
as a result the health of everyone on board has been put at risk. It's
pretty outrageous, especially given there are some very elderly people
Another passenger said: 'They flew in
extra cleaners to meet the ship in Copenhagen and picked up two extra
agency nurses in Amsterdam. They have put out extra sick bags.'
NOT SO HAPPY HOLIDAYS: OTHER CRUISES HIT BY THE VOMITING BUG
In May this year around 170 passengers on board luxury cruise liner the Boudicca had their dream holidays ruined by sickness.
The Fred Olsen owned ship was greeted by NHS staff and ambulance crews when it docked in Scotland after a 13-day tour of the Canary Islands that was marred by a suspected norovirus outbreak.
In February 3,000 passengers on board the Crown Princess had their Caribbean trip cut short when the Princess Cruise liner was ordered back to port after the vomiting bug swept through the ship.
Just a week earlier two other Princess Cruise ships had been struck by the highly contagious illness, which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Graham Hodgson, 68, a retired sales
manager from North Wales travelling with his wife Karen, said: 'All
those who fell ill were quarantined to their cabins so it felt like a
plague ship. People have been going round wearing masks.'
Passenger Paul Gilman said: 'It has
been outrageous from start to finish. People were falling like flies,
yet the crew were trying to insist everything was fine. P&O Cruises
has a lot to answer for. This hasn't been a pre-Christmas treat.'
The 62-year-old retired accountant,
who is travelling with his wife Carolyn, added: 'Everyone is saying this
a plague ship. It's a living nightmare.'
On its ten-day Christmas market cruise
Oriana, captained by Robert Camby, has called at Bruges, Amsterdam,
Copenhagen, Oslo and Hamburg and is due to return to Southampton
tomorrow. Tickets cost 1,429 for passengers in a balcony cabin, up to
949 for an ocean view outside cabin, and 799 for an inside cabin.
Carnival, P&O's parent company,
said all medical expenses would be covered. A spokesman said: 'There has
been an incidence of a mild gastrointestinal illness among the
passengers on Oriana.
'This illness is suspected to be norovirus, which is highly contagious and typically transmitted from person to person.
'Enhanced sanitation protocols have already been implemented to help minimize transmission to other passengers.'
Southampton Port Authority, which will
carry out a full inspection of Oriana when it docks, said it believes
340 passengers have been affected by norovirus.
The Oriana passenger who died in 2009
was Mary Smith, 67, who was on a Baltic ports cruise with her family
when she became ill. She saw the ship's doctor but died three days after
disembarking at Southampton.