Cruise ship set to return to Tilbury after winter vomiting bug strikes again

HOLIDAYMAKERS on a Christmas cruise have been hit by an attack of a virulent winter vomiting bug.

Twenty nine passengers on board the Marco Polo, where 400 people fell ill with the norovirus bug in 2009, along with eight members of staff, have been isolated in their cabins and treated by medical staff.

The ship, carrying 738 holidaymakers and 360 crew, is due to return to Tilbury docks,this morning after the cruise to Tenerife, which left on December 20.

One passenger on board, who did not want to be named,told the Daily Mirror that the festive trip had turned into a nightmare. She said: “There are bags marked human waste everywhere and staff are wearing masks.

“It is like something out of a film. They have closed the coffee stations but the bar is still open. But all the public toilets have been shut and we have been told to use our own in our cabins.

“But our cabin is miles away from anywhere. The trip has been a complete disaster.”

Tour operator Cruise & Maritime confirmed that a small number of passengers had fallen ill with the norovirus. The ship will be disinfected today before setting off on another cruise tonight and passengers on the new trip will be told what has happened.

Cruise & Maritime director Richard Bastow said: “We strictly follow and adhere to health protection protocols and take all possible measures to ensure our passengers and crew are fully aware and reminded of the importance of good hygienic practices on board.

“The ship is regularly inspected by UK Port Health Authorities and in common with all other cruise lines we will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities and follow their recommendations and guidelines.”

In July 2009, around 400 people fell ill with the norovirus on the Marco Polo, when it was owned by a German tour operator, and a tour around Britain had to be abandoned.

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