The Marella Explorer 2 recently joined Tui in April, and has been hit by an outbreak of the norovirus stomach bug just a month after setting sail. The ship was welcomed into the fleet in a gala ceremony in Malaga, after it had undergone a massive refit that added features including a champagne bar and pizza restaurant. The adults-only ship that has a capacity of 1,800 guests is currently at the port of Olbia on the Italian island of Sardinia, in its cruise across the Mediterranean that started in Naples.
It is understood that passengers are being served in the buffet at the moment, rather than helping themselves, which is standard procedure during outbreaks of norovirus, in order to prevent the infected people from spreading germs. A spokesperson for Tui stated that a small number of passengers reported feeling unwell last week:
“We are working closely with our team to monitor the situation and have implemented additional health and safety procedures on top of already stringent protocols to prevent any further customers falling ill. We’d like to reassure customers that this week’s itinerary continues to operate as planned and would like to remind customers that we regularly audit all of the cruise ships we feature in respect of health and safety, including hygiene.”
The norovirus is spread when making direct contact with an infectious individual or contaminated surface, and it usually takes between 12 to 48 hours to develop after been contracted, and between 1-3 days for a person to recover. When affected by this virus the main symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea that can easily develop into full gastroenteritis. Moreover, there can also be other symptoms that can include nausea, headache, stomach pain, fever, and an aching body.
According to the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vessel Sanitation Program (CDC), there have been five outbreaks of sickness on cruise ships this year so far, four of which were norovirus. While in 2018, there was a total of 11 of such outbreaks.