Vomiting bug cruise ship Boudicca docks in Belfast

The Boudicca arrived back in Belfast in the early hours of Thursday morning The Boudicca arrived back in Belfast in the early hours of Thursday morning

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A cruise ship that was hit with an outbreak of a "gastroenteritis-type illness" has docked in Belfast.

Ninety-eight passengers out of 763 on board were affected.

The Fred Olsen cruise liner, the Boudicca, left Belfast on Monday 23 September for a 10-night Scandinavian cities cruise.

The ship is due to undergo a sanitation and cleaning programme before it sails again.

Symptoms of the illness include a sudden onset of vomiting and/or diarrhoea, and some people may have a temperature, headache and stomach cramps. The sickness usually lasts one or two days.

A spokesperson from the Public Health Agency (PHA) said medical staff on the ship had kept the PHA and Belfast City Council port health officers informed of the situation.

"The outbreak has been managed by the onboard medical team according to recognised national guidance," the PHA said in a statement.

"The PHA and port health are working with Belfast Harbour and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines to advise and ensure that every appropriate step has been taken to manage this outbreak.

A letter was sent to passengers due to leave on a cruise on Thursday evening A letter was sent to passengers due to leave on a cruise on Thursday evening

"Procedures were put in place for the safe disembarkation of passengers and enhanced infection control measures have been implemented as necessary.

"Passengers have been provided with appropriate public health advice."

The Boudicca is scheduled to leave for another cruise to Portugal and the Canary Islands later on Thursday.

Richard Girvan is booked to travel on the cruise on Thursday evening.

He said he was looking forward to his holiday with "trepidation" after discovering that passengers had been ill.

"We were looking forward to it and to get a letter two days ago saying that you're going on your holiday and we hope you enjoy it, but there's a possibility that you might get ill on the boat," he said.

"If you do get ill, you're confined to your room and all your food will be brought to your room, so you're not able to enjoy anything.

"Obviously you have your concerns of illness, but all we can do is try and take all the precautions necessary and put up with the inconvenience of facilities being closed on the boat for the first few days until they're absolutely certain the virus is gone.

"I spoke to the doctor on Wednesday and he told me to take some tablets for vomiting and diarrhoea."

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