Lifestyle & Belief

Passengers threaten riot after norovirus hits British cruise of Christmas markets


A P&O cruise ship is moored in Southampton before embarking on a cruise later today on January 5, 2011 in Southampton, England.


Oli Scarff

Passengers on a British cruise threatened to riot after ship was hit by vomiting virus, claiming the corridors and toilets smelled strongly of sick and that the crew didn't care.

Crew members of P&O's Oriana, on a 10-day Baltic cruise, taped off areas of the ship "like a crime scene," British tabloid The Sun reported.

The liner, carrying more than 1800 people, sailed on Dec. 4 for a tour of Christmas markets at Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and Hamburg.

While P&O management said nine cases of norovirus — a winter vomiting bug — had been confirmed, there were reports of up to 300 ill passengers on board the vessel.

England’s Channel 4 was reporting that at least 374 passengers and crew succumbed to norovirus on board Oriana.

According to the BBC, British health authorities had said the ship reported outbreaks for several days on the current and previous voyage.

British passenger Dave Stringer, 57, told The Sun:

"There might be a riot because the captain and crew refuse to listen. We'll refuse to disembark unless we get some answers. It's been a cruise to hell." 

The BBC quoted a statement from the cruise company as saying that "enhanced sanitation protocols have already been implemented."

Southampton Port Health Authority said it would be monitoring the cleaning of the ship when it arrived on Friday.

On Thursday, reported that P&O Cruises had threatened to withhold passengers' tips unless crew — who are paid a basic salary of as little as 75 pence ($1.20) an hour face — hit performance targets.