Luxury cruise ship passengers are seeking compensation after the outbreak of a stomach virus, which cut short their eight-day voyage to the Norwegian Fjords.
Within hours of the cruise ship setting sail from Southampton, guests began to complain of stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea, believed to be caused by a norovirus, which can take between 12 to 48 hours for symptoms to appear.
The timing of the outbreak has led the cruise line company to be "pretty certain" that the cause of the illness was brought onboard. They claim that there were no cases of norovirus on the ship’s previous cruise and symptoms of gastrointestinal sickness only started to emerge as it spread among passengers two to three days after leaving port.
As the outbreak was so severe, with at least 300 of the 1,100 passengers as well as crew members said to have fallen ill, the cruise was brought to a premature end one day earlier to allow the ship to undergo a systematic “deep clean” ahead of its next scheduled trip.
While investigations are underway to determine the origin of the illness, passengers are being offered a refund to cover one day's cost and a voucher for up to 50 per cent off a future voyage. Additional out-of-pocket expenses are to be handled "on a case-by-case basis."
Norovirus is a particular problem for cruise ships because passengers and crew are in close quarters, and is typically spread through physical contact with ill people or surfaces/objects they may have touched. More than 10,600 people have fallen ill with a gastrointestinal illness whilst on-board a cruise ship in the last five years, according to the Centre for Disease Control.
Southampton is one of the biggest UK ports for embarking on cruise, recording 430 cruise liner visits and 1.6 million holidaymakers in 2013.