Update: Pullmantur Swine Flu Cruise Scare Over?

June 18, 2009
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Update, 5:18 p.m. EDT: Aruba Public Health has announced that when Ocean Dream arrives at the island, passengers will be kept onboard the vessel until they are ready to depart for the airport for their flights home. According to the statement by Aruba Cruise Tourism, there's no word on how this will impact travelers embarking on the next cruise.

(11 a.m.) -- Passengers on Pullmantur's Ocean Dream, the Spanish cruise ship that's currently home to a small outbreak of swine flu, have been forced to forgo yet another port of call on their Caribbean voyage. Yesterday's planned visit to Venezuela's Isla Margarita was the third call in a row (following Grenada and Barbados) that was cancelled. More than 340 Venezuelan passengers were, however, allowed to debark as Isla Margarita was their home port and represented for them the end of the cruise.

Three confirmed cases of swine flu, officially known as H1N1, exist onboard; the infirm are all crewmembers.

Reports yesterday that the ship had been quarantined and passengers were being forced to stay onboard until June 24 have turned out to be erroneous.

Ocean Dream is the latest victim in the uncertainty surrounding how to address outbreaks of swine flu on cruise ships. Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas was turned away from St. Lucia and Antigua because two crewmembers and one passenger had flu-like symptoms; they ultimately tested negative for H1N1. And in Australia, P&O's Pacific Dawn was barred from entering several ports when three crew members did test positive for swine flu. They eventually recovered and the cruise ended early.

Ocean Dream is en route to Aruba, where the cruise ends for most passengers. In a statement from Pullmantur, the line said that "the ship continued its journey to Aruba where the rest of passengers and affected crew will disembark, using all the security measures established in the disembarking protocols indicated by the Health Authorities from Aruba."

The ship is scheduled to arrive there late Thursday night. Pullmantur's statement notes that Ocean Dream will be ready for its next scheduled cruise, which departs tomorrow afternoon.

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief, and Dan Askin, Associate Editor