(10 a.m. EDT) -- During a 10-night Baltic cruise, 85 passengers on Fred. Olsen's Boudicca out of a total of 763 passengers onboard, became ill with a gastrointestinal illness.
The current outbreak follows a separate outbreak onboard Fred. Olsen's Black Watch just 10 days ago and makes the fifth outbreak onboard Boudicca this year.
More than 11 percent of passengers on Boudicca's 10-night Baltic cruise have experienced symptoms, such as vomiting, stomach cramps and fevers, according to a statement from the line. Passengers exhibiting symptoms are being isolated in their cabins until a ship's doctor deems them symptom-free, and crewmembers have closed certain public areas, public toilets and the self-service buffet and increased cleaning efforts throughout the ship. On every Fred. Olsen sailing, hand sanitiser is always available, and passengers are reminded of proper hygiene procedures.
"In such instances, every precaution is taken on board to ensure the swift containment of the illness," the company said.
Boudicca will return to port in Belfast, where its current sailing originated, on Thursday, 3 October, earlier than scheduled, so that the ship can undergo "an intensive cleaning and sanitisation programme, which includes ‘fogging' of the ship by professional external contractors."
Passengers on the following sailing, a 12-night Canary Islands cruise, received a letter by post to alert them to the situation, and the line says it will consider any passenger medical concerns about travelling on the cruise on a case-by-case basis. Fred. Olsen's statement also said it expected only minimal delays at check-in.
Regarding compensation for passengers affected by the illness, a spokeswoman for Fred. Olsen said, "Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' policy is to provide those guests affected by gastric illness on board its ships with a discount voucher for a future cruise, as a gesture of goodwill."
Gastrointestinal illnesses -- such as Norovirus -- are not limited to cruise ships, but spread quickly when many people are together in a small space. Nursing homes, hotels and schools are especially susceptible. Symptoms typically last for 24 to 48 hours, but people may be contagious before and after they experience symptoms. For more information, see our story on Norovirus - What You Need to Know.
--by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor