Things go bad when Americans try biz in Cuba: Norovirus edition

The first cruise ship to Cuba in decades set sail on its historic voyage a week ago – but it has returned to Florida with a suspected norovirus outbreak on board.

the-godfather-part-iiCarnival Corporation’s Fathom Line ship Adonia left Miami for Havana with just over 700 passengers on board on May 1. 

The ship returned to Miami a week later – around 6.30am on Sunday – but on its journey back to the United States, there were reports that several passengers had fallen ill, CBS News reports.  

Carnival confirmed to the station that 14 passengers were recovering from stomach-related symptoms. 

It is believed that the passengers in question had norovirus, CBS reports, but the cruise line has not elaborated. 

Canadians go to Cuban resorts and report getting sick

In 2004 I visited the Dominican Republic, a popular Caribbean destination for Canadians attempting to escape the winter cold, wet and grey. Dani and I took advantage of her spring break and Millennium Scholarship (probably not what they were meant for) and spent a week sitting on the beach, eating buffets and playing scrabble.

It was pretty fun.100B8930

My food paranoia was focused on ice cubes, foods held at the wrong temperature and fresh fruits and vegetables. I don’t think I ate anything that wasn’t fried and stuck to beer all week. Dani wasn’t nearly as ridiculous as I was (she rarely is) and she tried lots of stuff.

The week was a success; not only did we get some Vitamin D, neither of us had any foodborne illness symptoms.

Not quite what recent Canadians visiting Cuba have reported, according to Global News.

Unsanitary washrooms, unsafe food handling practices, unrelenting stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea: these are some of the complaints being reported about popular Canadian vacations destinations in Cuba promoted and operated by Sunwing Vacations of Toronto.

“It’s very severe, and I am struggling a week later,” said Amanda Klein of Medicine Hat, Alta., who recently returned from Cuba and says she is still experiencing stomach problems.

Klein, 26, spent a week with her boyfriend and two other Canadian couples at the Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba between Jan. 5 and 12.

But within days of the Canadians’ arrival, Klein says five of the six guests were violently ill with vomiting and diarrhea.

Klein says the group stopped eating at the all-inclusive resort–which they booked through Sunwing Vacations–after witnessing troubling food-handling practices.

“Numerous staff put their hands in food, licked their hands and put their hands in the food we were supposed to eat,” she said.

Klein is among a growing number of Sunwing customers who contacted Global News to complain about becoming ill at the Memories Paraiso Azul resort. Many have posted their accounts of poor conditions and illnesses on Facebook and on

But, Sunwing says it’s is not aware of a significant problem at the resort in Cuba.

“To date the hotel management team at Memories Paraiso Azul has advised us that they have not been made aware of any such cases,” said Jacqueline Grossman, senior director of marketing for Sunwing Vacations.

Grossman says the health and wellbeing of its customers is the company’s “primary concern.”

She acknowledged, however, that travelers have reported illnesses to Sunwing.

“In the past week our customer service department has received information from 10 clients complaining of gastro-illness during their stay at this resort over the last month,” Grossman said.

Sunwing travellers say they got sick at other resorts in Cuba in the last month, too.

£30,000 to holidaymaker struck down by ‘nightmare’ salmonella food poisoning in Cuba

A police officer who suffered a suspected heart attack after contracting salmonella during his sister’s wedding celebrations in Cuba has been awarded a £30,000 settlement.

wedding.crashersPhilip Miller, 31, from Weston Super Mare required two stays in hospital for treatment for chest pains and fluid on his heart in the month after he returned from the special two-week family holiday at the Hotel Playa Pesquero in November and December 2013.

He has now described how he wants to put the ‘nightmare’ behind him after suffering months of ill health since returning to the UK.

The health problems he suffered after developing symptoms, which included abdominal pains, diarrhea and severe lethargy, began just three days into the holiday and had such an impact on him that he needed three months off work to recover.

Now, after specialist illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell helped him to secure a £30,000 settlement from TUI UK, who did not admit liability, following the Salmonella he contracted, Mr Miller has revealed how he is finally looking to the future following the holiday ordeal.

Playing the numbers, Salmonella-at-Cuban-resort edition

When barfing endlessly, it’s of little comfort to know you represent only 1.5% of possible barfers.

Yet that is the insensitive numbers game tour operators like Thomas Cook continue to play when they confirm 29 cases of “mild illness” reported by guests staying at the Hotel Playa Pesquero in Cuba in the first two weeks of April.

vomit(7)“This represents just 1.5% of the overall hotel population of 1,800,” the operator said.

The operator disputed allegations made by holiday illness compensation specialists Your Holiday Claims that 80% of holidaymakers had fallen ill due to an outbreak of Salmonella at the hotel.

Your Holiday Claims alleged that many British holidaymakers had been taken to hospital during their stay. Many were believed to be on saline drips for severe dehydration after being violently ill, the law firm said.

Cook responded by saying: “We are aware that a statement was recently issued by a no-win, no-fee lawyer.

“This repeated as yet unsubstantiated allegations and we consider this to be deeply irresponsible.”

Sick vacationers from Cuba continue to land in Canada

This is sounding a lot less like norovirus.

Elizabeth Church of Toronto’s Globe and Mail reports that for the fifth time in less than a week, a Canadian airline is reporting several ill passengers on a flight returning from the vacation destination of Holguin in Cuba.

Although many travellers on each flight reported staying at the same resorts, at least four resorts have been identified amongst the travellers onboard the first four affected flights, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

But those resorts could have the same food suppliers; and at least one commenter to said he or she was tested upon arriving in Canada and tested positive for salmonella.

Michelle Larabie said she got sick on a plane returning to Toronto from Holguin on Jan. 13, a week earlier than the other flights. She said she began feeling nauseous while in the air, and her sickness and diarrhea lasted nearly a week.

Visitors to Cuba returning to Canada with gastrointestinal illnesses

The Ottawa Citizen reports three flights from Cuba to Canada had at least 39 passengers returning with a variety of gastrointestinal illnesses.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said Friday two flights that arrived in Ottawa from Cuba on Tuesday and Friday had 19 passengers suffering from symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and fever, while a Thursday flight from Cuba to Toronto had 20 passengers suffering from the same symptoms.

“In all cases, quarantine officers assessed the situation, determined that the passengers did not have a disease listed in the Quarantine Act and thus did not pose a significant public health risk and passengers were released,” said Sylwia Gomes in an email reply to the Citizen.

The sick passengers on the three flights came from at least four different resorts, she said.

Early Friday morning, an Air Transat flight from Cuba carrying 260 passengers was detained at the Ottawa International Airport after 12 people complained of a stomach illness. The ill passengers were all from the same resort, so the concern forced Ottawa’s fire HAZMAT team to respond to the early morning incident.

Passengers were assessed and then cleared after nearly 20 minutes of examination, said a spokesman for the Ottawa ambulance service.