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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 November, 2003, 10:31 GMT
'Bug ship' arrives home
Aurora in Southampton
The ship docked at Southampton after 17 days away
The virus-hit cruise ship which prompted a diplomatic row when Spain closed its border with Gibraltar has arrived in Southampton.

The Aurora, run by P&O Cruises, ended its 17-day cruise at 0600GMT and all the passengers have disembarked.

More than 500 of its 1,800 passengers suffered from a highly infectious stomach bug thought to have been brought aboard when the ship left Southampton on 20 October.

A P&O Cruises spokeswoman said just one passenger was still displaying symptoms of the bug.

On leaving the ship, Mike Kendrick told BBC News he had been sick for five days and would be seeking compensation.

He said: "This is my fifth cruise and it's the first time I've been glad to be home."

Several other passengers have said they will be considering legal action against the cruise line.

Heather McCourt was at quayside waiting for her parents Raymond and Mary, who have both been ill.

She told BBC News: "My dad sounded very weak this morning.

Aurora

"He had a quadruple heart bypass about seven years ago so there were obvious concerns about how the virus was affecting him.

"I would imagine they're both feeling very disappointed and disheartened. Things were so different 17 days ago when they were so excited setting off."

The luxury liner is due to set off for another cruise at 2000 GMT on Thursday.

David Dingle, P&O managing director, told BBC News: "Our sanitation processes are working very well and we're continuing them on the next cruise and the one after that.

"I'm as confident as I can be that we've taken every measure possible to ensure there will not be another occurrence."

Health officials were due to meet the ship when it docked, to talk about the virus in a standard procedure.

More than 50 passengers had been asked to stay on board by Gibraltarian authorities when the ship docked there on Monday.

Flash outbreak

The Norwalk or Noro virus is highly contagious and causes nausea, chronic diarrhoea and vomiting for about two days.

P&O has declined to offer a standard compensation package to the passengers, who have paid up to 5,000 for the trip, saying it will consider cases individually.

Lawyers claim they have been contacted by some passengers determined to take legal action.

One passenger told BBC News Online he would be contacting his solicitor.

The whole holiday has been ruined... it is just like being on board a hospital ship
Andrew Williams
Passenger

Andrew Williams, 43, from South Wales, said: "I fell ill last Sunday.

"We were in Sicily. I felt perfectly well. Suddenly out of the blue I was vomiting in the street.

"Not enough was done early enough to prevent the spread of the infection."

Mr Williams said he would not go on a P&O cruise again.

"I will be passing everything on to my solicitor when we get home. The whole holiday has been ruined. It is just like being on board a hospital ship."






WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Mike Sergeant
"It's thought one of the passengers was carrying the virus"



SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Cruise ship rights
03 Nov 03  |  Business


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