Hundreds suffer vomiting bug on UK ship

The cruise ship Balmoral is prepared prior to boarding of passengers going on the Titanic Memorial Cruise in Southampton, England April 8, 2012Image copyright

Image caption

Most of those on board the Balmoral are British, the cruise operator said

Hundreds of passengers on a British cruise ship docked in the US have fallen ill with norovirus, health officials say.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said 252 of the 919 passengers on board the Balmoral cruise ship had fallen ill with the stomach virus.

Most of those on board are British, the ship’s owners, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, said in a statement last month.

The ship has suffered other outbreaks of norovirus in previous years.

The Balmoral docked in Portland, Maine, on Sunday, having left Southampton on England’s south coast on 16 April.

It is now on its way to Saint John, in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, media in Portland reported.

QA: Norovirus

Can you avoid winter vomiting bug?

While docked in Baltimore on 30 April and 1 May, experts from the CDC boarded to carry out tests on people who had fallen ill, the organisation said in a statement.

Since then, the number of patients with norovirus, also known as winter vomiting bug, has increased. As well as the 252 passengers, eight of the 520 crew have also contracted the illness, the CDC said.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said in a statement on 29 April, when the illness was first reported, that staff were “undertaking extensive sanitisation measures and cleaning of the ship”.

Cases were “particularly highlighted” on cruise ships, it said, where people were in close confines. Anyone with symptoms was being confined to their cabins, it said.

As well as the British passengers, two of those on board were American nationals, the company said.

An eight-day Scandinavian cruise on the same ship was cut short last May after a number of people fell ill with norovirus.

In 2010, at least 310 people on board the ship were reported to suffering diarrhoea and vomiting when it docked in Los Angeles.

And an outbreak of norovirus hit more than 100 people on the Balmoral on a cruise of Scotland in 2009.

The CDC has reported 10 outbreaks on ships docked in the US so far this year, compared to 12 for the whole of last year.

Symptoms of the illness include a sudden onset of vomiting and/or diarrhoea and some people may have a temperature, headache and stomach cramps.

The sickness, spread by human contact, usually lasts one or two days.

Are you a passenger or crew member on the Balmoral cruise ship? What are the conditions like on board? Do you know someone who is on board? Email your story to

If you are happy to speak to a BBC journalist, please include a contact telephone number.

You can also contact us in the following ways:

comments powered by Disqus