A 21st-century Typhoid Mary?

//A 21st-century Typhoid Mary?

Frequent (I was going to say regular, but you’ll see in a minute why that would have been inappropriate) cruise passengers have become accustomed to the public health forms they have to complete before boarding a ship at the start of a voyage.
We are asked to vouch for the fact that we have not had infectious illnesses such as flu or stomach upset in the previous two or three days, and I’m sure most people tick the “no” box automatically because they fear being refused on board if they own up.
The forms are an unfortunate necessity in these days of swine flu and norovirus (the so-called winter vomiting bug) – and would-be passengers should not assume that if they tick the “yes” box they will be banished.
A medical consultation may be called for and sensible precautions will be taken – but it does not mean the holiday is over before it’s begun.
When one passenger boarded Fred Olsen’s Balmoral in Dover on Saturday for a cruise round the British Isles, she did the right thing and mentioned that she had been ill. She was allowed on board and advised to remain in her cabin.
Trouble is, she decided not to keep herself confined, and now 91 of the ship’s passengers have been struck by norovirus. To make matters worse, the outbreak came to light when the ship arrived at Invergordon, where earlier this year a cruise on another ship, the Marco Polo, was brought to a halt because more than half the passengers were suffering from the same infection, so it became instant news.
Fred Olsen’s marketing director, Nigel Lingard, told the BBC: “A lady who came on board at Dover was presented with illness. The doctor confined her to a cabin. Unfortunately she chose to break that understanding and went out in public and was ill, and spread the illness rapidly.”
Lingard added: “We have very rigorous health procedures. We go to a Code Red health scenario and control things like access to buffets to cut down the spread of illness. We quickly got control of it and the number of new cases yesterday was quite low.”
Cruise aficionados commenting on the story on Gene Sloan’s USA Today cruise blog are unanimous in their condemnation of the passenger. One commented “So now we have Norovirus Nancy to go along with Typhoid Mary,” and others have suggested that the un-named passenger should be keel-hauled, or made to walk the plank.
Neither of which will happen, but after this she will be lucky to be allowed on a cruise ship ever again.
It has not been a happy cruise so far for Balmoral. As well as the norovirus outbreak, a passenger was airlifted from the ship by helicopter on Monday after a suspected stroke, and a call at Portree, on the Isle of Skye, had to be cancelled because of heavy weather.
Balmoral is currently at anchor off Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull, and is next due to call at Dublin.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:38+00:00 9 September 2009|Cruise News|3 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. cynic 10 September 2009 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    I’m sure an elderly woman with nausea, projectile vomiting and watery diarrhoea took great pleasure in “sneaking out” around the ship. What does “marketing director” Nigel Lingard think she was up to – delivering milk tray, or maybe a spot of free climbing of an evening? Pull the other one, if I had this illness i doubt i’d be out of bed, let alone the cabin!

  2. another cynic 10 January 2010 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Yes, superwoman! I bet she’s been on all the other Olsen cruises since then that have had the virus on board!
    Who are they blaming for those infections I wonder?

  3. marc 8 May 2012 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    My Father is on the ship at the moment and unfortunately Norovirus has once again struck! I can’t help thinking there is a problem with cleanliness on board rather than mysterious old ladies bringing on viruses.

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