Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Norovirus on Oriana cruise ship: More than 400 passengers suffer

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe passengers from Oriana are now back in the UK

More than 400 passengers on a cruise ship were hit by winter vomiting bug norovirus, Southampton's port health authority has confirmed.

P&O Cruises has apologised to passengers on Oriana who suffered diarrhoea and vomiting during a 10-day Baltic cruise.

Managing director Carol Marlow said: "I am very sorry. We don't want anybody to be ill on one of our holidays."

Extra cleaning took place before it departed at 20:00 GMT.

Southampton Port Health Authority said its inspectors had observed "systematic and thorough application of the ship and terminal turnaround outbreak plans".

Public areas on the ship were disinfected and sealed off overnight ahead of its departure for a 23-day Mediterranean cruise.

'Standing for hours'

Debbi Baldanza, whose elderly parents had to wait several hours before embarkation at Southampton, said the scene at the terminal was "absolute chaos".

She added: "All able-bodied travellers have made their way on board but the poor disabled travellers who need assistance have been left for hours in the terminal because there are not enough wheelchairs or people to help them embark.

"My elderly disabled mother has just been left for hours without assistance and my 76-year-old father has had to stand for hours without a seat.

"Thank goodness they've carried out the sanitisation, but they knew how many people would need assistance and have failed to make sure they would be OK."

A spokesman from Carnival UK Group said it was "extremely sorry" if any passengers had been forced to wait for help.

The health authority issued a revised figure of 417 outbreaks, after earlier reports of about 160 reported cases during the cruise.

Confined to cabins

It was the second bout of the diarrhoea and vomiting bug in successive voyages on the ship, which carries up to 1,843 passengers. The most recent journey departed on 4 December.

Ms Marlow said: "We give our passengers a letter on boarding which asks them if they have been in contact with anyone with norovirus, we try our very best to make sure this doesn't come on board.

"If people have been symptomatic before their cruise we ask them not to embark or stay in their cabin until they are not symptomatic."

Passengers who were affected were confined to their cabins during the outbreak.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites