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    Plague ship mutiny: Angry passengers plot a mass sit-in after bug hits 400

    • Around 400 passengers left quarantined in their cabins due to norovirus
    • Seniors officers on P&O liner accused of 'lying' about extent of virus
    • Ship due to port in Southampton where passengers are threatening action

    Hundreds of ‘mutinous’ passengers aboard a cruise ship ravaged by the winter vomiting bug are planning a sit-in protest when it returns to port today.

    Travellers on the P&O cruise liner Oriana are furious after some 400 were left quarantined in their cabins with norovirus.

    They claim many sick passengers had to queue for hours to see the ship’s doctor before being rudely ordered to stay in their cabins. They said the liner turned into a ‘plague ship’, with restaurants operating only limited service and an overwhelming stench of vomit below deck.

    One traveller, who had to be treated by the ship’s doctor, was told he had racked up more than £1,000 in medical bills.

    Passengers accused senior officers of ‘lying’ about the extent of the norovirus problem and failing to address their concerns.

    Last night the ship, with 1,843 passengers on board, was returning to Southampton. It is due to leave again with a fresh intake of passengers at 5pm.

    But dozens of the current passengers, many of them middle-aged and elderly, say they will stage a sit-down protest on their arrival at the port over the way the ten-day Baltic cruise has been run.

    One elderly female passenger said: ‘We’re going to stage a sit-down or a protest of some form on board the liner before we get off.

    ‘We’re all respectable middle-class travellers of a certain age. I have never been on a protest in my life but this trip has infuriated me.

    ‘People are angry because they had an outbreak onboard on the previous cruise and there are questions over whether it should have gone to sea so quickly afterwards.’

    Paul Gilman, 62, a retired accountant, said: ‘The captain has jokingly told us we shouldn’t storm the bridge but there has been huge discontent on this cruise and there is a wave of support for further action.’

    Graham Hodgson, 68, added: ‘There has already been a meeting of 300 passengers on board who were all determined something should be done. People will certainly be letting P&O know what they feel about the whole thing when they get into port.’

    Passengers are furious that the cruise was allowed to go ahead even though dozens of passengers had been taken ill on with norovirus on its previous voyage.

    They say the ship must not have been properly cleaned – something the company strenuously denies.

    Elizabeth Dobson of Sheffield, who was on the previous cruise around the western Mediterranean, said: ‘It was awful. There were so many people on board who were sick. When I heard this latest cruise had suffered it I was not surprised.’

    Oriana has been on a ten-day cruise to the Christmas markets of northern Europe and docked at Zeebrugge (Bruges), Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and Hamburg before returning to Southampton. Passengers paid up to £1,429 for a balcony cabin, £949 for an outside view cabin or around £799 for an inside cabin.

    Oriana passenger Mary Smith, 67, died three days after disembarking in 2009 after she became ill on board with suspected norovirus.

    Southampton Port Authority said an inspection of the Oriana would be carried out after cleaning to ensure it had properly managed its outbreak plan. It said 378 passengers and 25 crew had fallen ill.

    A spokesman for Carnival, the parent company of P&O Cruises, said no one on board would have to pay their medical expenses.

    By Jaya Narain, Daily Mail Online

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    Sorry to read that so many were sick. Quite the virus!

    Can't blame the passengers for feeling angry. I remember when NCL "hid" information from us on our Hawaii cruise. Hundreds of us descended to the purser's area -- all to no avail. We all signed petitions. We all sent letters to headquaters. Let's hope these passengers have a better outcome.

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