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The captain of luxury European cruise ship the Oriana told passengers staff “could not cope” after 300 people were struck by an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug during a tour of Christmas markets in Europe.Passengers, one of whom had described the trip as “a cruise to hell” disembarked the ship at 3.30am this morning.
During the tour, which took in the Christmas markets of Zeebrugge, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and Hamburg, many were left furious after they reportedly had to queue for hours to see the ship’s doctor and were forced to endure the smell of vomit below deck.
They say there was a lack of food and toilet paper on board the Oriana following the outbreak of norovirus.
Passengers even threatened a “sit-in” protest when it returned to port in Southampton.
Chris Meadows, from Southampton, who attended a crisis meeting between the liners captain Thomas Lane and passengers, said the captain told travellers staff were struggling to cope.
He said: “The captain has admitted at the height of the outbreak the crew could not cope.
“We had a show of hands of how many people were affected, which was filmed by many of the passengers that attended the meeting.”
Large parts of the ship were closed off to avoid the virus spreading further while many passengers were forced to miss stop offs at cities including Amsterdam, Oslo and Hamburg,
One elderly female passenger said travellers were planning to protest as they disembarked the ship.
“We’re all respectable middle-class travellers of a certain age. I have never been on a protest in my life but this trip has infuriated me,” she told the Daily Mail.
P&O initially said the outbreak of norovirus had affected only nine passengers. However, this morning they confirmed 300 people had been sick with the bug.
Passengers, who paid up to £4,000-a-head for the 10-day Baltic tour, reported restaurants on the board the ship were operating only limited service during their stay.
The luxury liner’s owners Carnival UK have offered to waive fees for anyone who had to visit the on-board doctor and said a protest had not been staged.
Spokeswoman Carol Marlow said: “The number of people affected was at an unprecedented level but we did not put profits before health.”