Fred Olsen Cruise Ship Under Quarantine in Norfolk After Norovirus Sweeps Passengers and Crew

By Denisse Moreno, Epoch Times
April 29, 2016 Updated: April 29, 2016

Passengers on a huge cruise ship have been stuck in Norfolk, Va., after they were placed under quarantine due to a norovirus outbreak.

The Balmoral, part of Fred Olsen Cruises, is on a voyage until May 20 after leaving England on April 16.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 153 out of 917 passengers fell ill, while 6 out of 518 crew members were reported sick. The main symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea.

The captain of the ship, Captain Bent Ivar Gangdal, said no one had been off the ship since April 20, according to WTKR. There was a schedule disembarkation in Bermuda, but it was cancelled after the outbreak.

The CDC said two of its Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officials and an epidemiologist will board the ship when it arrives in Baltimore, Md., on April 30. They will conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities. The CDC said specimens have been collected and tested onboard using a norovirus rapid test, which was positive. They said the specimens will be sent to CDC for more testing.

Meanwhile, the ship has docked at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center and passengers have not been allowed to disembark for weeks.

Following the outbreak, the crew on the vessel said they increased cleaning and disinfection procedures, as well as making daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases. Fred Olsen Cruises also sent a public health and sanitation manager to oversee and assist with execution of the sanitation and outbreak response policies.

A company spokeswoman, Ruth Burton, says conditions have improved. She said that as of now only seven guests are in isolation. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.