Page last updated at 08:01 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 09:01 UK

Passenger blamed for cruise bug

The Balmoral
Passengers were hit by a 'double whammy' of sickness and poor weather

The owners of a cruise ship hit by a vomiting bug have blamed a passenger for spreading the infection.

At least 91 people on The Balmoral, which has anchored off Mull, have the suspected norovirus bug.

Owners Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said a woman passenger who boarded the ship at Dover on Saturday was believed to be the source of the outbreak.

A spokesman said she ignored advice to stay in her cabin, spreading the bug to others on board.

Marketing director Nigel Lingard said: "We know the exact cause in this case.

"A lady who came on board at Dover was presented with illness. The doctor confined her to a cabin.

The ship was caught in a bit of a double whammy. We had some poor weather and an even poorer forecast and then an illness on board
Nigel Lingard

"Unfortunately she chose the break that understanding and went out in public and was ill, and spread the illness rapidly."

Mr Lingard said only a small proportion of almost 1,800 passengers and crew on the ship had been affected.

A total of 87 passengers and four crew are thought to have the bug, with 79 of them in isolation.

Mr Lingard added: "We have very rigorous health procedures. We go to a Code Red health scenario and control things like access to buffets to cut down the spread of illness.

"We quickly got control of it and the number of new cases yesterday was quite low."

Passengers have also had to cope with poor weather which prevented the liner docking at Portree on Skye on Tuesday.

"The ship was caught in a bit of a double whammy. We had some poor weather and an even poorer forecast and then an illness on board," said Mr Lingard.

Its next port of call was Tobermory on Mull, where health officials were due to inspect the ship before it sails for Dublin on the next leg of its voyage.

Two months ago there was anger when about 400 passengers on board the Marco Polo, operated by Transocean, were struck down by norovirus.

One man died on board the ship, although his death was associated with other medical problems.


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