Passengers queueing to board a bug-hit cruise liner in Belfast yesterday were relishing their holidays despite a virus overshadowing the previous voyage.
Embarkation had been delayed for several hours to allow expert contractors time to carry out a sanitisation programme on the Fred Olsen line’s Boudicca.
The luxury ship left Belfast on September 23 bound for Scandinavia but later reported an outbreak of a vomiting and diarrhoea virus. A total of 98 passengers were affected.
The Boudicca – which can accommodate up to 880 passengers – docked in the city early yesterday and was scheduled to sail for Madeira and the Canary Islands late last night.
One woman waiting to board said she wasn’t at all concerned about previous passengers’ experience.
“I would rather be sailing to Madeira than sitting here in this rain. I can’t wait to get on board and get away.
“I’m not going to let that ruin my holiday – I’ve been looking forward to it for too long,” she told the News Letter.
A couple from Bangor, who also did not wish to be named, said they were worried when they first heard about the spread of the illness but had no concerns about boarding.
“We were more worried our cruise was going to be cancelled, to be honest.
“I suppose you just have to have faith that the company will make sure the ship is properly disinfected before we get on.
“Once we’re on board everyone will soon forget about what happened on the last one. We’re really looking forward to it.”
A spokeswoman for the company said “every effort” had been made to contain the illness “in accordance with Fred Olsen’s strict onboard medical protocols”.
A total of 763 guests were on board for the 10-day Scandinavian voyage.
The Fred Olsen spokeswoman said the safety and well-being of all guests and crew was paramount, and that their systems for preventing the spread of illness were “amongst the best” in the industry.
“We take any outbreaks of illness on board our ships extremely seriously and we work closely with all the relevant authorities to ensure that the same high standards of hygiene and sanitation are maintained across our fleet.
“This gastroenteritis-type illness is common in hospitals, schools, hotels, cruise ships and other areas where people are in close proximity.
“Most people do not report incidences, but on a cruise ship – where movement is restricted – cases are highlighted,” she said.