Any Miami cruise lawyer at our firm can tell you that Norovirus is an extremely common illness that can spread extremely quickly onboard cruise ships. Also known as the stomach flu, Norovirus is transmitted via person to person contact or through contaminated food. Being that many people travel onboard cruise ships and spaces are confined, Norovirus is able to spread quickly. Although the virus itself doesn’t pose much harm to victims, complications can arise if those infected do not stay well hydrated.
While Norovirus can happen at any time, this has been a particularly stressful month for cruise lines in the UK when it comes to fighting the illness and the bad press associated with it. Just one day after the P&O luxury vessel Oriana, which passengers dubbed the “plague ship,” arrived back in the UK, a second P&O ship was hit by a Norovirus outbreak after docking in the same port. The Azura arrived in Southampton on Saturday morning with passengers suffering from the stomach illness after the Oriana brought over 300 ill passengers to the port the day before yesterday. The Azura had been carrying 3,059 passengers on an 11-night Iberia cruise, and was due to leave later for a 12-night Christmas cruise to the Canaries, but ten people came down with the virus.
“There has been an incidence of a mild gastrointestinal illness among the passengers on Azura,” said P&O Cruises. “This illness is suspected to be Norovirus, which is highly contagious and typically transmitted from person to person. Norovirus is common throughout the UK, Europe and North America and has affected a number of schools, hospitals, nursing homes and children’s day care centers.”
The Oriana, which carries 1,843 passengers, returned to Southampton the previous day from a 10-day Baltic cruise and left the next night on a 23-night cruise in the eastern Mediterranean, leaving many to wonder if the virus is still present onboard. Last week’s Oriana Norovirus outbreak led several areas of the vessel to be closed off in order to avoid the spreading the virus any further. Many passengers had to be quarantined as well, being ordered to remain in their cabins, missing several stops.
One passenger spoke up about his experience on the vessel to the Daily Mail, saying the scene onboard was nothing short of a nightmare.
“People were falling like flies, yet the crew were trying to insist everything was fine,” said passenger Paul Gilman, 62. “Everyone is saying, ‘this is a plague ship’. It’s a living nightmare.”
Recent figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show that over 750,000 people may be affected by the UK Norovirus outbreak. This cruise season, 2,630 reports of Norovirus have been confirmed, but many people do not report symptoms. Around 72 percent more cases of the stomach bug have been reported this year compared to last year’s figures. Norovirus symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and take about three days to pass. Those infected are advised to drink plenty of water and wash their hands frequently to avoid the spread of the virus.
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