Dozens of passengers on Saga cruise ship hit with norovirus outbreak, denied port entry

A cruise ship in the U.K. is returning to a dock in Southampton after being turned away from its planned Saturday stop in Gibraltar due to a norovirus outbreak onboard.

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Saga’s Spirit of Discovery cruise ship is due to dock in Southampton, in South East England, on Wednesday after authorities at the Port of Gibraltar declined to allow passengers to leave the ship on Saturday because many on board were suffering from diarrhea, vomiting and fever.

Once tested, 89 passengers on the Spirit of Discovery were found to have norovirus — a gastrointestinal illness that can be spread person to person, and typically last up to three days.

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Saga’s Spirit of Discovery cruise ship is due to dock in Southampton, outside of England, Wednesday after authorities at the Port of Gibraltar declined to allow passengers to leave the ship on Saturday because many on board were suffering from causes diarrhea, vomiting and fever.

Saga’s Spirit of Discovery cruise ship is due to dock in Southampton, outside of England, Wednesday after authorities at the Port of Gibraltar declined to allow passengers to leave the ship on Saturday because many on board were suffering from causes diarrhea, vomiting and fever. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The ship, carrying around 870 passengers in total, as well as 500 crew members, had been on a voyage around Italy and Spain when the norovirus outbreak occurred. The ship was then reportedly instructed to head back to Southampton without stopping.

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In a statement to Fox News, Saga confirmed the situation.

"We have a number of individuals suffering from a gastrointestinal illness on-board Spirit of Discovery, following her recent cruise to Italy. Due to the possibility that this could be caused by the Winter Vomiting Bug, the second most frequently reported illness after the common cold, the Port of Gibraltar took the decision not to allow passengers to leave the ship. As a result, she continued with her journey back to Southampton which was our next port of call concluding this cruise.

“Our high hygiene standards and well-practiced procedures mean that the illness has remained contained," the statement continued. "The health of our customers is of paramount importance to us and we shall continue to take all appropriate steps to ensure their well-being.”

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According to a statement shared with the Daily Mail, the port at Gibraltar at no time believed the outbreak to have been related to the novel coronavirus.