Cruise ship: Suspected cholera: 3,000 people are stuck on the ship

More than 3,000 people are stuck on board a cruise ship off the East African island of Mauritius because of suspected cholera outbreaks.

Cruise ship: Suspected cholera: 3,000 people are stuck on the ship

More than 3,000 people are stuck on board a cruise ship off the East African island of Mauritius because of suspected cholera outbreaks. After a series of gastrointestinal illnesses on board the "Norwegian Dawn", the authorities in Mauritius refused to allow the ship to dock in the port of the capital Port Louis on Sunday, after the French island of La Réunion had previously turned away the ship. Southern Africa is currently experiencing one of the worst cholera outbreaks in years.

A majority of the 2,184 passengers were actually supposed to start their journey home on Sunday. At the same time, 2,279 new travelers were originally supposed to board the ship in Port Louis, the port authority said. There are also 1,026 crew members on the ship. Health Ministry employees took samples from around 15 people on board on Sunday morning. The results of the investigation are expected on Tuesday. According to information from authorities, at least 14 passengers and one crew member are said to be suffering from diarrhea and vomiting. They are isolated in their rooms.

The US shipping company Norwegian Cruise Line announced that a small number of guests on the "Norwegian Dawn" experienced mild symptoms of stomach illness on the twelve-day voyage from South Africa. "Due to additional testing required by local authorities prior to entry, the Government of Mauritius has postponed disembarkation for the current cruise and embarkation for the next cruise by two days to February 27, 2024."

Stranded people should receive free hotel stays

In a letter dated Sunday and available to the German Press Agency, the captain informed the passengers that they would not initially leave the ship in Port Louis. The shipping company offers hotlines for its guests to clarify questions about rebooking the further journey home. The guests stranded in Mauritius should receive free hotel stays. The shipping company also announced that the hygiene measures on board have been increased and all necessary measures are being taken to protect the guests, the crew and the travel destinations.

According to the shipping company, the "Norwegian Dawn", built in 2002 at the German Meyer shipyard in Papenburg, Lower Saxony, has space for up to 2,340 guests and 1,032 crew members on board. She left South Africa on February 13th for her journey via Madagascar to Reunion Island and Mauritius. The “Norwegian Dawn” was then supposed to return to South Africa with the new passengers.

Passengers reacted differently

On Friday, the authorities on the French island of La Réunion refused to allow the ship to enter the port due to the gastrointestinal illnesses. Both the French government and the island's regional health authority considered the health situation on board the ship to be unsatisfactory.

The authorities suggested sending doctors on board and carrying out tests. The shipping company then decided to cancel the stopover, which was only planned for a few hours, and continue directly to Mauritius, explained the island's prefecture. The port authority in Mauritius confirmed that the "Norwegian Dawn" reached Mauritius on Saturday evening around 6 p.m. due to the missed stop.

Passengers on the cruise ship reacted differently to the situation. “Everything is normal and we are having fun,” a Mauritian guest told dpa, but criticized a lack of communication on board and from the tour operator.

A couple from the island of La Réunion who boarded the ship in Cape Town also complained about the communication. "As soon as we left Cape Town, they knew there was a problem. The buffet had disappeared. We were served with gloves. There were rumors of gastroenteritis," the husband told dpa. "We were going to get off in Reunion Island on Saturday. In the morning we were told that the ship would go to Mauritius instead. We were a little worried. Finally we thought that we would get off in Mauritius and fly back to Reunion Island. That's when we found out "Suddenly that the health authorities would come on board. It was only very late that they mentioned the suspicion of a cholera outbreak."

Severe cholera outbreak in southern Africa

Cholera is caused by a bacterium that produces a poison in the intestines. It is spread primarily through contaminated drinking water and contaminated food. Many infections have no symptoms, but in severe cases the severe loss of fluid and salt can lead to circulatory collapse, muscle cramps and even shock and death within hours.

Southern Africa has been experiencing one of the worst cholera outbreaks in years for months. By mid-January, around 200,000 cases of illness and more than 3,000 deaths had been reported in the 13 affected countries. Mauritius was on high alert as cases had emerged in the Comoros.