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Mauritius lets cruise ship dock after cholera scare

February 26, 2024

A suspected cholera outbreak aboard the cruise ship Norwegian Dawn stranded more than 3,000 people off the East African island of Mauritius. For passengers, an end to their involuntary stopover is now in sight.

The cruise ship Norwegian Dawn arrives in New York, archive image from 2005.
People on the Norwegian Dawn cruiseliner with a stomach complaint prompted cholera concerns amid an outbreak in southern AfricaImage: PO MIKE LUTZ/USCG/AFP

The East African island nation of Mauritius on Monday allowed the cruise ship Norwegian Dawn to dock in the capital, Port Louis, after finding no evidence of cholera on board.

The first passengers were expected to disembark on Tuesday morning at 6:00 a.m. local time. This follows an involuntary delay to the cruise from South Africa via Madagascar and La Réunion to Mauritius.

More than 3,000 people — over 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members — were stranded aboard a cruise ship off Mauritius amid suspicions of a possible cholera outbreak.

Archive image of the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship, from August 2022.
The ship waited offshore pending test results for the more than 10 people on board with symptoms of a stomach complaintImage: Frank Drechsler/IMAGO

Following a series of gastrointestinal illnesses on board the Norwegian Dawn, authorities in Mauritius initially refused to allow the ship to dock in the capital Port Louis on Sunday.

Earlier, the French island of Reunion turned the ship away, so the shipping company decided to cancel the planned stop and proceed directly to Mauritius. The Mauritius Port Authority confirmed that the Norwegian Dawn arrived in Mauritius at around 18:00 on Saturday evening.

What's behind the multi-billion-dollar cruise industry?

What do we know about the symptoms?

US-based Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that a small number of guests on Norwegian Dawn experienced mild symptoms of stomach illness during the ship's 12-day voyage.

According to Mauritius authorities, at least 14 passengers and one crew member are suffering from diarrhea and vomiting. They have been isolated in their rooms. Health officials took samples from about 15 people on board on Sunday morning.

The Norwegian Dawn, built in 2002 at the German Meyer shipyard in Papenburg, Lower Saxony, can accommodate up to 2,340 guests and 1,032 crew members, according to the cruise line.

The majority of the 2,184 passengers were supposed to start their journey home on Sunday. At the same time, 2,279 new passengers were originally supposed to board the ship in Port Louis, the port authority announced. There are also 1,026 crew members on the ship.

Southern Africa isexperiencing a serious cholera outbreak. By mid-January, some 200,000 cases of the disease and more than 3,000 deaths had been reported in the 13 countries affected, with Mauritius on high alert because of cases in the Comoros.

dh/msh (dpa, Reuters)