Page last updated at 13:50 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Cruise ship hit by vomiting bug

Cruise ship Balmoral
The ship is now on its way to the Canary Islands

More than 200 people on board an 18-day cruise of the Canary Islands and west Africa have been taken ill after an outbreak of norovirus on their ship.

About 50 passengers on the Fred Olsen ship Balmoral, which left Dover in January, have been confined to their cabins by the bug.

The cruise operator said the liner was refused entry the Cape Verde Islands following the outbreak.

Fred Olsen said the ship was now heading for the Canary Islands.

Norovirus, also know as the winter vomiting bug, causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It normally lasts between one and three days.

My parents and aunt and uncle are currently on the cruise from hell
Sharon Leigh

A number of cruises have been hit by this bug in recent years.

Sharon Leigh, from Hertfordshire, said the outbreak had left her parents and aunt and uncle trapped on the cruise liner.

She added: "My parents and aunt and uncle are currently on the cruise from hell.

"All the public areas, including casino, buffet, gym are closed. Only the shows are working and Fred Olsen are refusing refunds or to go back home.

"I think their actions are disgusting. They should have never left [Dover] in the first place."

A spokeswoman for Fred Olsen said: "The total number of people infected has been a little over 200 in total, but currently there are only about 50 in isolation.

"But there are 1,846 people on board so it is a small number affected."

'Passengers compensated'

She said she was astonished the ship had been refused entry to the Cape Verde Islands.

She added: "The people infected would not have been allowed ashore.

"Every other port without exception has commended us for the steps we have taken and allowed us to dock.

"An extra port of call has been added and we are heading for the Canary Islands."

She said the company would compensate passengers who had been confined to their cabins, at the daily rate.

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