Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines can confirm that a gastroenteritis type illness has affected a number of guests on board Balmoral's 34-night L1608 'Old England to New England' cruise, which departed from Southampton, UK on 16th April 2016. There are currently just seven guests who have been required to remain in their cabins, out of a total of 1,434 guests and crew on board – the rest have recovered from their symptoms and been released. The majority of guests on board are British.
Balmoral has undergone inspections by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – receiving a US Public Health score of 91% – US Coastguard and the Public Health Agency of Canada. Balmoral is at sea today [10th May 2016], and is due to arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia tomorrow morning [11th May 2016]. At no point has Balmoral been quarantined in any port on this cruise, and is continuing as planned.
Fred. Olsen has been undertaking extensive sanitisation measures and cleaning of the ship, following the Company's strict illness containment and prevention plan, and is bringing on board an additional doctor and an extra nurse to oversee and assist with the implementation of these procedures, giving the Medical Centre a total of two doctors and five nurses. 20 additional professional external cleaning staff are also being sent out to the ship to assist in the execution of the ship’s illness response plan.
It is believed that the highly-contagious gastric illness was brought onto the ship, and is spread by person-to-person – or surface-to-surface – contact. Clusters are more commonly seen in areas where people are in close confines, such as hotels, schools and hospitals, as well as cruise ships. Most people do not report incidences, but on a cruise ship, cases are particularly highlighted.
Fred. Olsen works incredibly hard to deal with an outbreak of this nature, with some of the most comprehensive cleaning protocols available, exceeding those required by any regulations. But the fact remains that this kind of virus is one of the most difficult to eradicate and ‘kill’. It is very reliant upon guests washing their hands regularly with soap and hot water for 30 seconds – this is the best defence, as you ‘lift and wash’ the virus down the basin – and also upon guests informing the Medical Centre as soon as they show any symptoms, whereupon they are asked to remain in their cabins and avoid infecting any other guests.
Clearly, it is very unfortunate that guests are not able to enjoy fully all the facilities on board the ship in such difficult circumstances. However, Fred. Olsen believes that it is unique amongst cruise lines in providing immediate compensation to any guest who is required to remain in isolation within their cabin.
Fred. Olsen is co-operating fully with all the necessary maritime agencies and authorities and will continue to make every effort possible to ensure the safety and well-being of all its guests and crew on board, which is of paramount importance.
Fred. Olsen’s cruise ships meet, at all times, the highest safety, hygiene and health standards, and comply fully with the strict requirements and inspections of their Flag State, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and other relevant authorities.