Bug-hit cruise ship set to return

By Sandra Conchie

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Diamond Princess was due back in Tauranga today after being sanitised following an outbreak of a stomach infection. Photo / File
Diamond Princess was due back in Tauranga today after being sanitised following an outbreak of a stomach infection. Photo / File

Cruise liner Diamond Princess was due to sail into Tauranga again today after being sanitised following an outbreak of a violent tummy bug affecting dozens of passengers.

The ship, which docked in Tauranga on Wednesday at the end of a cruise that began in Australia 12 days earlier, has been thoroughly sterilised before its latest trip.

Princess Cruises spokesman David Jones said about 60 of the 3500 passengers and crew fell ill with a norovirus or gastro-type tummy bug over the course of the latest trip. He said the cruise operators had beefed up sanitation measures to get on top of the problem.

A relatively small number of people were affected. "The sanitation measures we have taken are not unique or unusual, and are the standard industry response."

The number of passengers falling ill had dropped each day over the course of the trip because of greater sanitation efforts, he said. The highly contagious bug can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and headaches.

Some passengers who left the ship in Tauranga on Wednesday said about 50 cabins had been locked down during the outbreak.

Mr Jones said he was unaware of anyone requiring further medical treatment or hospitalisation, nor had there been any requests for refunds.

It was business as usual with no delays in the next trip and he was unaware of any cancellations.

People who had joined the ship in Auckland yesterday were having a wonderful time, he said.

The cruise industry was vigilant when it came to minimising the risk of illness and it took only a few reported cases for a ship to go to a higher level of sanitation, Mr Jones said. The Diamond Princess, which was scheduled to dock in Tauranga at 4.30am today, is due to sail to Lyttelton at 4.45pm.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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