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Last Updated: Monday, 3 November, 2003, 14:41 GMT
'Stomach bug ruined my holiday'
Barry and Michelle Seaborn
The Seaborns said the boat was a "mortuary"
People on board a virus-hit British cruise ship have told how the sickness ruined their luxury holiday.

Some criticised P&O for the way it handled the crisis but others said the crew helped the holiday to succeed.

Spain sealed its border with Gibraltar on Monday when the ship docked, sparking a diplomatic row with the UK.

Adrian Dobbins told BBC News the bug, which hit 500 of the 1,800 passengers, had dampened the spirits of passengers on board the 200m ship.

'Fallen flat'

He told BBC News: "Everyone's been so preoccupied with cleaning themselves, asking 'Are we going to get the bug? Who can we talk to? What can we touch?'

"Even when parties are organised, it's tended to have fallen flat for me and that's what's taken the real shine off what should have been a really fabulous holiday."

Ronald Martin, 42, from East Yorkshire, said: "The kids have not seen land since the 28th.

"They were confined to a cabin with no windows for three to four days with vomiting and diarrhoea. We were not allowed to leave the cabin."

Aurora docks in Gibraltar
Passengers paid up to 5,000 for the cruise
Mike Smith, 58, from St Peter Port, Guernsey, had his wife and three children with him.

He said: "P&O failed in one respect in that all the information we've been receiving has come via the media and the TV and from mobile phones."

Michelle Seaborn, 35, from Heywood in Greater Manchester, said the ship should have sailed back to the UK when the illness was discovered.

She said: "It's been like a mortuary on board. Everybody is sick and we're not allowed to go in public areas. Coming back from a day trip to Dubrovnik, people were vomiting on the coach.

"It's horrendous. They are walking around in white suits like Ghostbusters spraying everything with chemicals. P&O should have been honest from the start."

It's been super - the crew could not do enough for us
Dorothy Barry
Husband Barry added: "It's like Strangeways, like a prison, locked in a cabin with no food or water. I feel like David Blaine."

But other passengers were less critical. Dorothy Barry, from Blackpool, said: "I have had no problems. It's been super - the crew could not do enough for us."

Sheila Claydon, 71, from Cleveleys, Lancashire, added: "I had the bug but it wasn't very severe and they looked after us well.

Compensation

Stan Dee, 73, and his wife Peggy, 72, from Wallasey, Merseyside, said their trip had not been spoiled either.

"It is not a long-term thing, only a day or so. Luckily, we have not had the bug.

"There have been certain restrictions, the crew have all been doing exercises to sanitise the ship and were wearing masks and spraying disinfectants."

David Dingle, managing director of P&O Cruises, told BBC News: "I'm very sorry that anyone on board had their holiday affected for one moment.

"Despite this being only a 24-hour stomach bug, I do understand it will have impacted on their holiday."

He said passengers should contact the company to discuss requests for compensation.




SEE ALSO:
'Bug ship' sparks border row
03 Nov 03  |  Europe
Vomiting virus outbreak on liner
05 Dec 02  |  England


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