Update, 4 p.m. EDT: Transocean tells us that those who choose to sail onboard Marco Polo in lieu of the train transfer will arrive in Tilbury the morning of 11 July. After arrival in Tilbury, the ship will be inspected in cooperation with local health authorities. The next cruise is expected to sail as planned on 14 July. Stay tuned.
(12:30 p.m. EDT) -- As we reported yesterday, Germany-based Transocean Tours has decided to terminate a 10-day British Isles cruise aboard Marco Polo, which began at Tilbury Saturday and has been docked at Invergordon since Monday, due to a severe outbreak of gastrointestinal illness.
Today, the company confirms via a prepared statement that the ship will set sail for Tilbury tomorrow, 9 July, and that passengers have two options for repatriation -- staying onboard the ship for the return trip or travelling back to London via York and Peterborough by train (specially chartered by Transocean) and then coach.
Passengers onboard reportedly took up a petition against train travel, according to BBC News, which resulted in the decision to allow folks to journey homeward on the ship if they so choose.
In related news, a post-mortem examination of the 74-year-old man who died onboard the voyage -- identified by BBC News as Roy Sillett -- pinpointed "lung and heart conditions" as the cause of death, according to the U.K. news outlet. BBC News also reports that Transocean could face legal action from the London Port Health Authority because the tour company did not notify the authority that there had been illness onboard the ship when it last docked at Tilbury (a small number of crewmembers and passengers fell ill with similar symptoms on the previous cruise).
Transocean is advising U.K.-based family members with questions to contact its U.K.-based general sales agent, Cruise and Maritime Services International Ltd in Dartford, Kent, on 0845 430 0274 or 07894 478 969 outside office hours.
--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor
Transocean Charters Train to Transport Marco Polo Passengers
July 8, 2009