The Cunard Cruise liner Queen Victoria has recorded over 123 cases of the bug among passengers and 16 among crew members since departing Florida on January 22.
The unidentified gastrointestinal infection was reported by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday.
Under US law, all ships, including cruise vessels, must report cases of communicable diseases in American ports. However, the unknown disease was accompanied by symptoms including diarrhoea and vomiting, according to the CDC’s notes.
The report by the Center’s Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) says roughly 7 per cent of the ship’s 1824 passengers had been affected.
“VSP is remotely monitoring the situation, including reviewing the ship’s outbreak response and sanitation procedures,” they said.
Many of the passengers aboard the Queen Victoria are currently on a 107-night “world voyage” which departed Southampton and the UK on January 11, due to return in April.
She is due to call into Auckland, New Zealand at the end of the month, from February 25.
Cunard cruise liner Queen Victoria pictured in Auckland's Waitematā Harbour. Photo / Herald on Sunday
A spokesperson for cruise operator Cunard told local media the ship’s crew “immediately activated their enhanced health and safety protocols to ensure the wellbeing of all guests and crew on board”.
While the disease remains undiagnosed, it bears a resemblance to an outbreak of norovirus aboard the Celebrity Constellation. The disease was able to be classified after Operator Celebrity released stool samples from affected passengers for testing.
Norovirus, or “winter vomiting disease”, is highly contagious disease and can spread quickly through the close quarters of a cruise ship.
Further gastrointestinal outbreaks during the US winter cruise season included a gruesome development aboard Carnival Elation, when a passenger spent half of a five-day cruise in the ship’s sick bay.
The passenger, Miranda Hill, told Jacksonville’s First Coast News she expelled alarming, blue vomit during the sudden illness.
“My throw-up was bright blue, and I have never eaten anything blue - and every time I look up, blue throw-up. It [must relate to] poisoning,” she said. Other passengers on the January 18 voyage complained of similar symptoms.
Carnival Cruise Line said they believed the passenger had suffered from a case of food poisoning and gave her party a $95 cruise voucher by way of compensation.
A statement said “the ship will undergo an extra layer to our vigorous cleaning procedures ahead of guests embarking for the next cruise”.
- NZ Herald
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