An outbreak of the norovirus vomiting bug, a perennial scourge of cruise ships, has been confirmed aboard Fred Olsen’s well-known cruise liner Balmoral.
Just last month, a more restricted outbreak of the same virus saw the Queen Mary 2 liner refused entry to Jordan and Oman.
In the Balmoral case, an investigation by the US Centers for Disease Control’s Vessel Sanitation Program revealed that 163 of 921 passengers aboard the ship – over 17% of passengers – had reported falling ill to the bug, which causes violent spasms of retching, projectile vomiting and diarrhoea. Six of the vessel’s 518 crew had also fallen ill, Cruise Critic reported.
Balmoral docked in New York City after two environmental health officers from the Vessel Sanitation Program boarded the ship in Baltimore on 30 April and 1 May to carry out health assessments.
Cunard described last month’s norovirus aboard its Queen Mary 2 as a “minor” outbreak that had led to just two cases of the affliction being confirmed aboard.
According to the BBC, some Cunard passengers had spoken of “unrest” on the ship after the ban on docking in Jordan denied passengers the opportunity to see the World Heritage-listed ancient city of Petra, one of the planet’s most memorable “must-see” sites.
Queen Mary 2 is on a 120-day world voyage from Southampton.
A report on norovirus last August by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) underscored what the cruise industry has known and communicated for a long time: The occurrence of norovirus on cruise ships is rare and it is dramatically lower than the number of incidents of this common illness on land.
Be that as it may, nothing spoils a cruise like an outbreak of retching and diarrhoea, particularly if it leads to the itinerary being cut short or ports of call dropped.
Written by William Sykes