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200 pax hit by mass diarrhoea outbreak off Hobart

December 8, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

One of the world’s largest cruise ships was in Sydney yesterday being thoroughly cleansed after making headlines over an outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting aboard, which one news outlet linked to a “bottomless buffet”.

The ship, Ovation of the Seas, was carrying more than 5800 people when it docked at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal early yesterday from Hobart. Embarkation of new passengers was delayed while thorough cleaning and sanitation was conducted. The ship was due to depart at 6.45pm last night for Opua in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands.

Lurid headlines preceded the ship’s arrival. Here’s a sample of some of them:

Where is Ovation of the Seas, how many passengers are on board the cruise ship and what is the vomiting bug? (The Sun, Britain)

Warning graphically sums up symptoms

THREE HUNDRED Britons are trapped on one of the world’s largest cruise ships in Australia amid food poisoning … (Daily Mail, Britain)

Shock as 200 passengers struck down with vomiting bug on Royal Caribbean cruise ship  (Daily Express, Britain)

Cruise ship passengers experience outbreak of vomiting, diarrhea after eating ship’s ‘bottomless brunch’. (Fox News, USA)

Media around the world tends to pounce on any instance of gastroenteritis on the high seas. Fox News quoted The Sun saying that a mass attack of diarrhoea and vomiting had struck passengers after they indulged in a “bottomless buffet” aboard.

Several publications mentioned a video clip posted by a passenger on Facebook showing crewmen in “moon-suits” (industrial cleaning apparel), spraying the hallways about the time the ship docked in Hobart.


“I’m on here now and basically a sitting duck with people in both cabins either side not well with the gastro,” another person commented on the video.

Royal Caribbean International released a statement:

“Those affected by the short-lived illness were treated by our ship’s doctors with over-the-counter medication, and we hope all our guests feel better quickly,” it said.

“Meanwhile, we’re taking steps like intensive sanitary procedures to minimise the risk of any further issues.

“Upon arrival into port in Sydney, the ship and terminal will be comprehensively sanitised and cleansed to help prevent the spread of illness, resulting in a delay to boarding for new guests.”

Ovation of the Seas

ABC News quoted another passenger saying that restaurants could not be accessed, finger food had been stopped and a galley tour had been cancelled.

Other passengers praised the crew’s efforts to keep the outbreak under control.

“The ship is doing absolutely everything to control it, you wash your hands at least a dozen times a day. Their hygiene is first class, it’s obviously a passenger that’s brought it on,” one passenger told the ABC.

The Tasmanian Health Service said the cruise ship had notified local authorities about the outbreak and public health services were working with the ship.

“It is not unusual for gastroenteritis outbreaks to occur aboard cruise ships, just as it is within the normal population,” a spokesman said.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    What a storm in a teacup by the media. 200 people represents about 3% of the passengers. Every cruise ship has a bottomless buffet. I very much doubt the restaurants were made unaccessible. As a veteran of over 50 cruises I’ve had the Gastro once. It’s not particularly pleasant but can be controlled easily by medicine. Its a risk you take on a cruise.

    Two things on board ship would reduce the risk of Gastro but the cruiselines don’t seem too interested. First off, control little kids in the buffet. They touch and handle everything, and sneeze and sniffle at will, whilst the parents do little to teach them sanitary things like covering their mouths. And there’s no point in having antibacterial spray machines everywhere if they’re constantly empty. These are reasons why I almost always dine in the restaurant, and give the buffet a miss, as I am convinced it’s the buffet and the public loos that spread this condition.

    One thing I do wonder is how you can thoroughly sanitise a 160,000 tonne ship in the ten hours in port, whilst at the same time loading and unloading passenger and stores. Another good reason to avoid these behemoths and look for smaller ships.

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