‘Floating sick bay’ Australia cruise ship rocked by Norovirus claims

Passengers aboard P&O’s newly-launched cruise liner say it is anything but a Pacific Eden, with a gastrointestinal outbreak affecting at least 60 passengers ahead of its return to Sydney on Monday.

norovirus-2The ship Pacific Eden, which docked in Sydney on Monday morning, has been accused of being a “floating disaster” and some passengers are seeking a refund.

Several passengers have contacted the Herald, claiming a norovirus gastrointestinal outbreak has affected a large number of passengers.

But a spokeswoman for P&O, which owns the ship, disputes the allegations. She said only 11 out of 1500 passengers aboard are ill, including five who were in isolation on Saturday. That number had reduced to two by Sunday.

This is about the same rate as the general population at any time, she said.

The departure of the 55,820 tonne cruise ship from Sydney on December 16 was delayed three to four hours to allow the crew to sanitise the ship after an outbreak of gastro on the previous trip. Yet the spokeswoman said she understood the previous cruise had a similar number of people who were sick with norovirus.

Yvonne Hubscher of the Sunshine Coast said she had seen children running along a deck singing, “We’re all living on a spew ship.”

She said the captain had mentioned that there had been 247 cases of norovirus on the previous trip. Many others had been sick on this trip.

Other passengers also contacted the Herald with similar allegations, including Cherie Butcherine from Dundas Valley.

vomit cruiseThe number affected by the outbreak is far higher than the 11 reported ill by a P&O spokeswoman on Sunday. It was the second outbreak of the Pacific Eden’s short life – she joined the fleet on November 25 after being purchased and refurbished by P&O.

But disease was only one of the young cruise liner’s problems. Guests who spoke to Fairfax Media also complained of mouldy bathrooms, a dearth of toilet paper, flooding, leaks and poor customer service.

“It was worse than a one-star motel, basically,” said Cherie Butcherine, who was travelling with her husband, mother and daughter Alexa. “We were just devastated to have to stay on board.

“There was food all over the floor, the bathroom was absolutely disgusting, it was covered in mould.”