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Friday
Dec282012

Cruise Ships Queen Mary 2, Emerald Princess Hit By Suspected Norovirus

Christian Alminana/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Passengers on two luxury cruise ships, including the prestigious Queen Mary 2, have come down with what is suspected to be a Norovirus bug.

Cunard, which owns the Queen Mary 2, said there are 19 passengers with "active symptoms" as of Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states 194 passengers and 11 crew reported being ill during the voyage. The website lists the causing agent of the illness as "unknown."

In a statement to ABC News, the cruise line said, "There has been an incidence of a mild gastrointestinal illness among the passengers on Queen Mary 2. This illness is suspected to be Norovirus, which is highly contagious and typically transmitted from person to person."

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 is on a 12-day, round-trip sailing from New York to the Caribbean that departed Dec 22. According to the line's website, the ship is docked in St. Lucia.

There was a similar recent outbreak on a Princess cruise ship. Five percent of all passengers, 166, plus 30 crew, fell ill on the sailing on the Emerald Princess. The ship docked in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Thursday.

"When this happens the ship's crew will start cleaning the ship more thoroughly, buffets will be served by servers wearing gloves, there will be multiple announcements about hand washing and probably more hand sanitizer stations," said Cruise Critic news editor Dori Saltzman. "Additionally, the cruise ship must report this to the CDC. When the cruise ends, the ship will undergo an intensive cleaning, which may delay the next cruise by an hour or two. “

The Health Protection Agency, a U.K. organization, said the instances of Norovirus are 83 percent higher than at this time last year. The Queen Mary 2 had arrived in New York after a transatlantic sailing that originated in Southampton, England.

In 2010, there was a Norovirus outbreak on the Queen Mary 2, also on a Christmas sailing to the Caribbean. The CDC reported that 185 passengers and 29 crew became ill on that sailing.

The ship is scheduled to sail its next voyage from New York on Jan 3. It will be a seven-day transatlantic crossing to Southampton, England.

The Queen Mary 2 is regarded as one of the world's most luxurious cruise ships.

Saltzman said any compensation for affected passengers would be "highly unlikely."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio