(1:00 p.m. GMT) -- A Holland America Line ship has been forced to cut short a 14-day round-trip cruise from the U.K. due to a Norovirus outbreak.
The 1,266-passenger Ryndam will return to Harwich a day early, on Friday July 3, so staff can perform a deep clean before its next cruise. The upcoming cruise, the 14-day Voyage of the Midnight Sun, is scheduled to depart on time July 4, 2015.
A statement from Holland America Line read: "During the 14-day Northern Isle cruise aboard ms Ryndam, roundtrip Harwich that departed June 20, 2015, a high number of guests reported to the infirmary.
"The pattern of illness strongly suggests the cause is the common virus called Norovirus, which is easily transmitted from person-to-person, especially if meticulous attention is not paid to personal hygiene. At the first sign of an increase in cases, we immediately initiated enhanced sanitation procedures to interrupt the spread of this virus."
These include: thorough disinfection of high-touch surfaces like railings, door handles and elevator buttons; encouraging passengers to use correct hand washing procedures and hand sanitizing gels placed throughout the ship; isolating ill passengers in cabins; and providing regular verbal and written communication to guests about steps they can take to stay well while onboard and safeguard the health of others.
Cruise Critic member Roseanne Columns' mother and father are currently onboard the ship.
She writes on the Cruise Critic Message Boards: "I received a call from my father today, who is currently onboard the Ryndam with my Mother. He told me that there is a very bleak atmosphere on the ship, will most staff wearing clinical masks throughout the ship and a common feel amongst guests that surfaces can't be touched, or food enjoyed.
"Both of my parents have been ill, and my father said that a large number of people on the cruise have been very poorly indeed. My great uncle and aunt are also on the ship, and my uncle has been confined to his stateroom for many days, receiving much care from the ship's medical team."
We have contacted HAL and are waiting to hear back how many passengers are sick.
--By Adam Coulter, UK Editor