Holiday from Hell on Oriana after virus hits hundreds

Oriana, docked in Southampton today.

Carol Marlow

Holiday from Hell on Oriana after virus hits hundreds

First published in Health Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

"THE HOLIDAY from hell" is how passengers have described their voyage on a Southampton-based cruise ship after hundreds were struck down with norovirus.

It left scores of passengers on board Oriana facing daunting medical bills of up £3,500, while many were confined to their cabins, unable to see some of the Baltic cities on the cruise, including Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Oslo.

Some holidaymakers compared the experience to being in prison, as they returned to Southampton today.

Bosses at P&O Cruises, which is owned by parent company Carnival, have today issued a grovelling apology to passengers and pledged to refund all medical expenses they incurred while on board.

But many have now vowed to lodge bids for further compensation, after claiming their holiday was “ruined”.

Mary Ellcone, 66, from Portsmouth, who was travelling with her partner, John Cross, 74, said: “It's been the holiday from hell to be honest.

“They left us letters when we got on board explaining about norovirus and that procedures were in place. The fact that they knew it was on board before we got on and still let the ship sail is terrible.

“The one trip we wanted to go on more than any other was to Copenhagen to see the Christmas market and we had to cancel that.

“We got that refunded but we paid £500 each for the holiday so we will be putting in a claim to P&O.”

Pete Baker, 67, from Grantham, in Lincolnshire, told how he thought his wife Carol was having a heart attack when she was struck down by the virus.

Mr Baker said: “We set sail on the Tuesday and on the Thursday we went to the theatre and three-quarters of the way through the performance my wife collapsed in the chair.

“I thought she was having a heart attack or a stroke. It was terrifying. The next thing I know she started vomiting and just covered herself from head to toe.”

Mrs Baker was taken to the medical unit on board the ship, before returning to her cabin with her husband.

But she said their room was not thoroughly sanitised by P&O staff - and hit out at the room service she received during the 48 hours she was confined to her cabin.

Mrs Baker said: “You would wait for hours to get something to eat and when it eventually came it was awful.

“I've never been to prison but I'm sure they get better meals there.

“You were made to feel like you were an inconvenience to them. They couldn't cope with it.”

Daily Echo: Holiday from Hell on Oriana after virus hits hundreds

Dennis and Sandra Pearce

Sandra Pearce, 56, whose husband Dennis contracted the virus, said: “We could hear people vomiting in other cabins next door and above. All you could hear was people crying and screaming.

“If anyone elderly got it I'm surprised it didn't kill them off.”

Mavis Miell, 71, and her husband Robert, 71, from Shirley, have been on 14 previous cruises with P&O, six of which were on board Oriana.

But the couple said the experience has made them reluctant to travel with the firm again.

Mrs Miell said: “The room staff worked their socks off, but we have seen very little of the official crew or the captain.

“We heard him a few times on the tannoy and he said the embarking passengers brought the virus on board, which put a lot of people's backs up.

“We got on board the ship Tuesday morning and by that afternoon someone had come down with it, so it was obviously on board the ship beforehand.”

Daily Echo: Vanessa Herrington, 30, and Chris Meadows, 28,

Chris Meadows and Vanessa Herrington

Another Southampton couple, Vanessa Herrington, 30, and Chris Meadows, 28, said they would be appealing for compensation after forking out £599 each for the cruise.

Vanessa revealed that she was charged £35 just for a doctor to come and visit her in her cabin.

And she revealed how another passenger, who passed out in a public toilet on board, had been left with a medical bill of £3,500 for his treatment.

Vanessa said: “Stewards would come in dressed in plastic aprons, gloves, masks, but they would only wipe over the fronts of wardrobes and clean the bathroom. It was so lax.

“They wouldn't clean things you touch with your fingers like light switches and telephones - that's not going to help the situation.

“And although they shut off the self-service restaurant, they left open the speciality restaurants and the casino, which are the places they make their money.”

Daily Echo: Carol Marlow

Carol Marlow

Carol Marlow, managing director of P&O, told the Daily Echo: “I'm really sorry that some people have been ill during their cruise. It's not what we want - we want people to have a great time on their holiday.

“Having said that, norovirus is prevalent in the UK at the moment and we have rigorous cleaning protocols in place and we've managed to get the number of people affected right down.

“It's around about 300 that were affected, which is a very difficult number. But through all the cleaning protocols only five people are effected today.”

Ms Marlow admitted there were “a few cases” of norovirus reported on Oriana's previous cruise, but claimed the liner was “fresh and clean” when it left Southampton last week.

She added: “We can't blame people for bringing it on board, but it came from somewhere.

“All we can do is have these rigorous cleaning regimes so that if anyone does express symptoms, we can control it and bring the number of cases down.

“I wrote to all our passengers on board a couple of days ago to say how sorry I was and inform them that medical fees would be waived.

“I have invited anyone who has any further issues to contact me and we will deal with them.

“It's all down to individual situations, individual circumstances, but we are very happy to hear from people and we will be dealing with every case fairly.”

Comments (20)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

4:22pm Fri 14 Dec 12

sotonwinch09 says...

Why should the company pay out because some people fell ill? I get ill most holidays and don't go round trying to get compo. They decided to go on a holiday where thousands of people share the same roof. What did they expect? I catch a cold on most plane journeys but don't complain.
Why should the company pay out because some people fell ill? I get ill most holidays and don't go round trying to get compo. They decided to go on a holiday where thousands of people share the same roof. What did they expect? I catch a cold on most plane journeys but don't complain. sotonwinch09
  • Score: 0

4:32pm Fri 14 Dec 12

The Wickham Man says...

If this was lalmonella you could understand P&O being blamed but it wasn't - it was norovirus brought on board by one or more passengers - some of whom may have been feeling ill even when they boarded judging by how soon they reported symptoms. it was spread round the ship by poor hygene, not by P&O. There will be lots of innocent passengers but the problem lies ultimately with other dirty passengers. They should turn the swimming pool into a sheepdip and dunk everyone every day.
If this was lalmonella you could understand P&O being blamed but it wasn't - it was norovirus brought on board by one or more passengers - some of whom may have been feeling ill even when they boarded judging by how soon they reported symptoms. it was spread round the ship by poor hygene, not by P&O. There will be lots of innocent passengers but the problem lies ultimately with other dirty passengers. They should turn the swimming pool into a sheepdip and dunk everyone every day. The Wickham Man
  • Score: 0

4:37pm Fri 14 Dec 12

sarfhamton says...

You put all those old people together and your bound to get some sort of plague going
You put all those old people together and your bound to get some sort of plague going sarfhamton
  • Score: 0

4:43pm Fri 14 Dec 12

999medic says...

Will you people get over yourself, I'm sorry you've had a rough time so has the 3/4million and rising of others who have suffered this bug, I've just had it and I know what it's like, p+o cannot be blamed for something that is an airborne illness, and poor hand hygiene of its passengers I'm sure cant help and you bet you bottom dollar more than one person brought it on board. I cannot help but wonder why the bills are so high for medical care, the cruise company needs to address this particularly if you stay within the EU waters.
Will you people get over yourself, I'm sorry you've had a rough time so has the 3/4million and rising of others who have suffered this bug, I've just had it and I know what it's like, p+o cannot be blamed for something that is an airborne illness, and poor hand hygiene of its passengers I'm sure cant help and you bet you bottom dollar more than one person brought it on board. I cannot help but wonder why the bills are so high for medical care, the cruise company needs to address this particularly if you stay within the EU waters. 999medic
  • Score: 0

4:51pm Fri 14 Dec 12

News Fanatic says...

I went on a cruise recently - not with P&O. At check-in on day one every would-be passenger was asked if they were well. Those who said they were not were sent to see a doctor free of charge. This was before they got on board.
There must be a temptation for every passenger who is unwell to say they are ok because if they were banned from boarding it would cost them money, even if insurance covered the bulk of a cancelled cruise.
I do not know what the solution is to the problem of nonovirus.
I went on a cruise recently - not with P&O. At check-in on day one every would-be passenger was asked if they were well. Those who said they were not were sent to see a doctor free of charge. This was before they got on board. There must be a temptation for every passenger who is unwell to say they are ok because if they were banned from boarding it would cost them money, even if insurance covered the bulk of a cancelled cruise. I do not know what the solution is to the problem of nonovirus. News Fanatic
  • Score: 0

5:47pm Fri 14 Dec 12

MGRA says...

The Wickham Man wrote:
If this was lalmonella you could understand P&O being blamed but it wasn't - it was norovirus brought on board by one or more passengers - some of whom may have been feeling ill even when they boarded judging by how soon they reported symptoms. it was spread round the ship by poor hygene, not by P&O. There will be lots of innocent passengers but the problem lies ultimately with other dirty passengers. They should turn the swimming pool into a sheepdip and dunk everyone every day.
its not spread by poor hygene... thats a hairy-hand-story.... its spread extremely easily due the virus's ability to survive on surfaces.... On a cruise ship, once the virus is introduced its almost impossible to stop it spreading. Couple that with the fact that people are spreading the virus 8 hours before their own symptoms emerge without knowing it , then its simply a case that this virus is a hazard of cruising....
[quote][p][bold]The Wickham Man[/bold] wrote: If this was lalmonella you could understand P&O being blamed but it wasn't - it was norovirus brought on board by one or more passengers - some of whom may have been feeling ill even when they boarded judging by how soon they reported symptoms. it was spread round the ship by poor hygene, not by P&O. There will be lots of innocent passengers but the problem lies ultimately with other dirty passengers. They should turn the swimming pool into a sheepdip and dunk everyone every day.[/p][/quote]its not spread by poor hygene... thats a hairy-hand-story.... its spread extremely easily due the virus's ability to survive on surfaces.... On a cruise ship, once the virus is introduced its almost impossible to stop it spreading. Couple that with the fact that people are spreading the virus 8 hours before their own symptoms emerge without knowing it , then its simply a case that this virus is a hazard of cruising.... MGRA
  • Score: 0

6:01pm Fri 14 Dec 12

Big Mac says...

A spokesman for P&O said
" Yes, there's a fair chance we will be coughing up in the near future... but that will have nothing to do with any stupid compensation claims!"
A spokesman for P&O said " Yes, there's a fair chance we will be coughing up in the near future... but that will have nothing to do with any stupid compensation claims!" Big Mac
  • Score: 0

6:42pm Fri 14 Dec 12

Fatty x Ford Worker says...

Bring on a British Crew!
Bring on a British Crew! Fatty x Ford Worker
  • Score: 0

8:44pm Fri 14 Dec 12

philiprhampton says...

I reckon somebody on board stirred this up regarding compensation ( we've all met them while on holiday at some stage), P&O aren't to blame, perhaps all boarding passengers should be scanned at security for illnesses, as it's probably the case that a carrier took it on board!!!!
I reckon somebody on board stirred this up regarding compensation ( we've all met them while on holiday at some stage), P&O aren't to blame, perhaps all boarding passengers should be scanned at security for illnesses, as it's probably the case that a carrier took it on board!!!! philiprhampton
  • Score: 0

8:51pm Fri 14 Dec 12

philiprhampton says...

By the way the same virus is also found in schools ,hospital wards etc. but of course you don't pay hard cash for these privileges.
By the way the same virus is also found in schools ,hospital wards etc. but of course you don't pay hard cash for these privileges. philiprhampton
  • Score: 0

8:53pm Fri 14 Dec 12

mansak_hunt says...

i'd rather have been on the titanic
i'd rather have been on the titanic mansak_hunt
  • Score: 0

9:01pm Fri 14 Dec 12

thinklikealocal says...

mansak_hunt wrote:
i'd rather have been on the titanic
What a ridiculous comment. Not at all funny, shame on you.
[quote][p][bold]mansak_hunt[/bold] wrote: i'd rather have been on the titanic[/p][/quote]What a ridiculous comment. Not at all funny, shame on you. thinklikealocal
  • Score: 0

10:03pm Fri 14 Dec 12

G0Rf says...

ship full of passengers contaminated with the norovirus docked and then released to go and spread it around the rest of us on their way home!

great!!!
ship full of passengers contaminated with the norovirus docked and then released to go and spread it around the rest of us on their way home! great!!! G0Rf
  • Score: 0

10:13pm Fri 14 Dec 12

southy says...

G0Rf wrote:
ship full of passengers contaminated with the norovirus docked and then released to go and spread it around the rest of us on their way home!

great!!!
I know what you mean, the ship should of been put into queratine, like they would of done before 1980, but sadly money talks and comes first.
[quote][p][bold]G0Rf[/bold] wrote: ship full of passengers contaminated with the norovirus docked and then released to go and spread it around the rest of us on their way home! great!!![/p][/quote]I know what you mean, the ship should of been put into queratine, like they would of done before 1980, but sadly money talks and comes first. southy
  • Score: 0

8:36am Sat 15 Dec 12

sophisticated says...

I dont believe this was started by passengers, more like cleaning standards are poor, not enough time to do a proper clean -I mean really scrub the whole ship before new passengers arrive. PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT. SHAREHOLDERS.
I dont believe this was started by passengers, more like cleaning standards are poor, not enough time to do a proper clean -I mean really scrub the whole ship before new passengers arrive. PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT. SHAREHOLDERS. sophisticated
  • Score: 0

1:59pm Sat 15 Dec 12

Teucer2000 says...

"We got on board in Tuesday and by that afternoon someone had gone down with it"......so given the fact that the virus has an incubation period of more than 24 hours, you have just confirmed it was bought on by a passenger, not already on the vessel.
"We got on board in Tuesday and by that afternoon someone had gone down with it"......so given the fact that the virus has an incubation period of more than 24 hours, you have just confirmed it was bought on by a passenger, not already on the vessel. Teucer2000
  • Score: 0

3:01pm Sat 15 Dec 12

kingnotail says...

southy wrote:
G0Rf wrote:
ship full of passengers contaminated with the norovirus docked and then released to go and spread it around the rest of us on their way home!

great!!!
I know what you mean, the ship should of been put into queratine, like they would of done before 1980, but sadly money talks and comes first.
'Queratine?' Learn to spell.
[quote][p][bold]southy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]G0Rf[/bold] wrote: ship full of passengers contaminated with the norovirus docked and then released to go and spread it around the rest of us on their way home! great!!![/p][/quote]I know what you mean, the ship should of been put into queratine, like they would of done before 1980, but sadly money talks and comes first.[/p][/quote]'Queratine?' Learn to spell. kingnotail
  • Score: 0

3:04pm Sat 15 Dec 12

kingnotail says...

thinklikealocal wrote:
mansak_hunt wrote:
i'd rather have been on the titanic
What a ridiculous comment. Not at all funny, shame on you.
Did you know anyone on the Titanic? No, of course you didn't because it happened 100 years ago. Stop pointlessly taking offence at things that don't affect you.
[quote][p][bold]thinklikealocal[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]mansak_hunt[/bold] wrote: i'd rather have been on the titanic[/p][/quote]What a ridiculous comment. Not at all funny, shame on you.[/p][/quote]Did you know anyone on the Titanic? No, of course you didn't because it happened 100 years ago. Stop pointlessly taking offence at things that don't affect you. kingnotail
  • Score: 0

12:43am Sun 16 Dec 12

mr.southampton says...

sophisticated wrote:
I dont believe this was started by passengers, more like cleaning standards are poor, not enough time to do a proper clean -I mean really scrub the whole ship before new passengers arrive. PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT. SHAREHOLDERS.
I know. It's enough to make you puke.
[quote][p][bold]sophisticated[/bold] wrote: I dont believe this was started by passengers, more like cleaning standards are poor, not enough time to do a proper clean -I mean really scrub the whole ship before new passengers arrive. PROFIT PROFIT PROFIT. SHAREHOLDERS.[/p][/quote]I know. It's enough to make you puke. mr.southampton
  • Score: 0

8:50am Sun 16 Dec 12

Northamboy says...

It takes a full team three nights to deep clean a large commercial kitchen. That's three 12 hour shifts or 36 hours in total. What hope to deep clean a ships kitchens in only 8 hours turn around?
It takes a full team three nights to deep clean a large commercial kitchen. That's three 12 hour shifts or 36 hours in total. What hope to deep clean a ships kitchens in only 8 hours turn around? Northamboy
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree