QM2 passengers hit by norovirus

Up to 200 passengers aboard the luxury cruise liner, Queen Mary 2 have contracted norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug.

The ship, which is owned by British-American cruise line company, Cunard, is on a 13-night luxury Christmas tour of the Caribbean, after leaving New York on Saturday, December 22. Approximately 2,600 passengers are on the GBP550m ship, with ticket prices costing as much as GBP5,000 per person.

Reports claim that several of the 200 victims of the illness began to suffer the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea within hours of the ship leaving port. Efforts are being made to contain the infection by isolating those that have been diagnosed in their cabins, and hand-to-hand contact with other passengers and items such as salt and pepper shakers is being discouraged.

The Daily Mail quoted Michele Andjel, spokeswoman for Carnival, as saying, ‘Enhanced sanitation protocols have been employed to help minimise transmission to other passengers. The safety and comfort of passengers and crew is always our number one priority. As is currently standard procedure across our fleet, all the ship’s passengers were provided with a precautionary health notice advising of widespread norovirus activity and the health measures to avoid contraction and spread, both on board and whilst ashore.’

The infection aboard the QM2 is the latest in a number of similar incidents that have plagued the cruise industry of late. It also follows a report last year by US sanitation inspectors who, following a spot-check on the QM2, described it as ‘filthy’ due to a number of problems including dirty water in a splash pool and fruit flies and cockroaches in a storage locker.

The liner, which is currently in the Dominican Republic, is due to return to New York on January 4, following further stopovers in St. Lucia, Barbados and St. Kitts.