More than 250 cruise ship passengers were confined to their rooms after contracting the "winter vomiting bug" Norovirus, with crew members also succumbing to the illness. People on board the ship Balmoral, which left from Southampton, UK, on 16 April, were confirmed to have the virus after staff from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) boarded the vessel in the US responding to reports that passengers had become ill during the transatlantic voyage.
Despite the virus being detected last month, with an initial statement from Fred Olsen Cruise Lines stating just seven people were in isolation, 252 passengers of 919 on board and eight staff members have now come down with the bug, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, and have been confined to their cabins.
The majority of passengers on board the ship, which is docked in Maine, are from the UK, with several guests from the US, with more than 25% of people on the ship contracting the virus, according to the CDC.
It is the second time the Balmoral has been hit with Norovirus, with an outbreak reported during a cruise in Scotland in 2009, with a female passenger who boarded with the virus blamed for the outbreak.
In 2016 so far, eight ships that have docked in the US, including the Balmoral, have reported outbreaks of the virus – the worst being the Balmoral – and two have reported unknown outbreaks of illness.
More than 1,100 people so far this year were recorded by US authorities as falling ill on cruise ships that had docked in the country.