Page last updated at 22:12 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 23:12 UK

Internet role on bug-hit cruise

Computer keyboard
One passenger was able to access an internet story on the outbreak

The internet played a major role for passengers seeking and sending information on an outbreak of norovirus on their cruise ship.

The operators of the Marco Polo were forced to terminate an around UK tour in Invergordon after crew and passengers fell ill.

A woman claiming she was a passenger sent messages, or tweets, on messaging service Twitter about the situation.

Dozens of other tweets on the incident have appeared on the site since.

They include a well wisher passing on sympathies to those on board, travel magazines and local radio and print media posting brief updates, links to online stories about the outbreak, or seeking interviews with those onboard.

Previous voyage

The female passenger began tweeting within hours of the death of 74-year-old passenger Roy Sillett, who had lung and heart problems, on Monday.

She wrote of rumours of an illness on the ship and later of her relief at being able to leave the ship for a walk around Invergordon.

Twitter is a service popular with celebrities such as self-confessed technology geek Stephen Fry and actor Ashton Kutcher.

Users can write individual messages using no more than 140 characters.

Meanwhile, passengers said they only became aware of a bout of sickness onboard the Marco Polo on a previous voyage after reading about it on the BBC Scotland news website.

Passenger Pam Cloke said: "We didn't know anything about that until one of the passengers had accessed the BBC website and printed something off that then told us that there had been an illness onboard."

A spokeswoman for operators Transocean Tours of Bremen said updates on the outbreak and plans for getting passengers home were given as frequently as possible.

She added: "It was a rapidly changing situation."



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