Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hundreds Sickened on Hawaiian Cruise

HONOLULU (AP) — A highly contagious virus that causes stomach flu sickened about 220 passengers aboard a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship that returned Monday to Honolulu after its weekly seven-day cruise around the islands, officials said.

Lab tests confirmed a norovirus — which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea — aboard the Pride of Hawaii, said Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Health.

"It's one of the common viruses we've been seeing on cruise lines," Okubo said. "Most of the time, people recover."

The Norwalk-like virus infected about 9 percent of the ship's 2,500 passengers, and no one was hospitalized, the cruise line said. Virus symptoms typically last a day.

Passengers who felt sick, as well as their cabinmates, were asked to remain in their rooms for 24 hours. Norwegian said it was giving those passengers a $200 on-ship credit.

Surfaces in the ship were cleaned to eliminate lingering viruses, it said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating, Okubo said.

Norwegian describes Pride of Hawaii as the largest and most expensive U.S.-flagged cruise ship ever built. It began service last year.

Norwegian was acquired in February 2000 by Star Cruises PLC of Malaysia, according to the cruise line's Web site.


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