Several passengers started throwing up during a coach trip on the island of Mallorca as part of their luxury Mediterranean cruise on board the Aida, and by the end of the day, 300 of them were suffering vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains and fever.
Two doctors already on board ship on the Aida’s ‘floating hospital’ found they could not cope, and several more had to be flown in from Berlin.
But even then, sick travellers were forced to queue for up to three hours to give their personal details and inform the management of their symptoms, then wait another five hours in bed for the doctor to come round.
Once there, the medics only had a few minutes to examine them, and simply gave them suppositories.
Given the risk of infecting hitherto healthy passengers, those affected were ordered to stay in their berths ‘until further instructions were given’.
During that time, the cruise company handed out leaflets with hygiene recommendations and gave them bread and water.
Numerous passengers complained about the perfunctory treatment and eight-hour wait, but medics said that as it was a virus and not a bacteria, the only way to combat it was by consuming fluids to keep the patients hydrated, and that antibiotics would not help.
Their ship returned early to Palma de Mallorca and passengers were evacuated en masse to wait for their planes home whilst the ship was disinfected.
Meanwhile, several coaches were brought in to transport the passengers to a ‘holding’ unit in the city suburbs to wait for their airport transfers – and healthy travellers were mixed in with sick ones.
But several of them refused to stay for another minute and jumped on the first plane home they could find, even though it meant extra cost.
Despite the Aida company insisting the gastroenteritis outbreak was an isolated incident and that all hygiene measures had been taken, reports of another of its cruise ships being forced to dock in Rotterdam, The Netherlands two weeks earlier have come to light.
On this occasion, 70 passengers were infected with gastroenteritis.
In Spain, doctors treat this type of virus with anti-diarrhoea and anti-nausea medication and by administering a glucose and saline solution via an intravenous drip, but Aida passengers say they were left with ‘just bread and water’, which ‘went straight through them’.