Fred. Olsen Ship Hit with Stomach Bug

September 21, 2013

(5 p.m. EDT) -- During a 12-night Baltic cruise, 130 passengers on Fred. Olsen's Black Watch became ill with a gastro-intestinal illness. A total of 778 passengers were onboard.

Although the cruise line stepped up its "extra preventative and containment measures," according to a company press release, more than 16 percent of passengers experienced symptoms, such as vomiting, stomach cramps and fevers. Passengers exhibiting symptoms were isolated in their cabins for at least 48 hours, and crewmembers 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.

Black Watch returned to the Port of Rosyth on 20 September, as scheduled, but docked early in the morning to begin "an intensive cleaning and sanitisation programme, which included a complete ship fumigation by professional external contractors." In addition, the ship was inspected by the local Health Authorities and Rosyth Port Health representatives, and they were satisfied with the ship's condition.

Passengers on the following sailing, a 12-night "World Heritage Sites of Iberia" cruise, received a letter by post to alert them to the situation; they also received a letter on check-in. The ship departed later that day with minimal delays.

A spokeswoman for the line said: "We offer affected guests a ‘future cruise credit' of 50 percent of the nightly rate, based on the period of confinement within their cabins, which is intended 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 Erica Silverstein, Features Editor