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Transocean Tours Ends Norovirus Cruise

July 9, 2009 By: Brittany Wallace Travel Agent

Transocean Tours announced Wednesday that it will be ending the current 10-night sailing of the Marco Polo in Invergordon, Scotland, where the ship has been since Monday.

The ship made its way to Invergordon after an outbreak of a norovirus-like illness swept through the ship. The cruise began in London and was scheduled to include stops in seven ports around the British Isles. The ship is ending its voyage seven days earlier than scheduled.

The number of passengers affected by the illness has been growing, according to many British media outlets. According to USA TODAY, 44 percent of the 769 passengers on board have fallen ill, where gastrointestinal outbreaks on ships rarely spread past five to 10 percent of passengers.

Transocean Tours says it made the decision to cancel the current cruise "in close consultation with NHS Highland," the health authority in the Invergordon region, according to USA TODAY.

Infected passengers have experienced severe vomiting, according to local media reports, and five passengers have been taken from the ship to a local hospital. Local doctors have also made their way onto the ship to treat the rest of the sick passengers, reports say.

Although there was one death on Monday aboard Marco Polo, the cruise company says it is unrelated to the virus outbreak. Officials say they are conducting a post-mortem on the dead passenger to determine the cause of death.

"Arrangements will be made for all passengers who are fit to travel to be disembarked and repatriated at the earliest opportunity," the cruise operator says in its statement, according to USA TODAY. "Those passengers where doctors do not recommend traveling at this time will remain on board for continued nursing and will be repatriated once fully recovered."

Tests have begun to determine if the outbreak is actually norovirus. Norovirus breaks out regularly in schools, nursing homes, hospitals and other places people congregate. Those infected usually get better in just one to two days and deaths are rare.

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