Dec. 4, 2002 – The first cruise ship to have passengers suffer from an outbreak of a gastro-intestinal virus in recent weeks made a regularly scheduled call at St. Thomas on Wednesday that was nearly uneventful.
The Holland America Line vessel, the Amsterdam, dropped anchor in the Charlotte Amalie inner harbor. Many of the 1,240 passengers eagerly boarded tenders that took them to shopping, tours and other sight seeing. It was Day 3 of the 10-day cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the ship's first trip since a shipboard illness wrecked numerous vacations last month.
The Amsterdam was the first of three ships cruising in the Caribbean to experience an outbreak of what federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have identified as the Norwalk virus, a common abdominal ailment with symptoms that lasts 24 to 48 hours. According to national media reports, up to 500 passengers came down with symptoms, including nausea and diarrhea, after the ship was scrubbed and disinfected following an earlier outbreak.
A similar problem on board the cruise ship Disney Magic led to that ship being taken out of service temporarily and missing its regular St. Thomas port call on Wednesday. Other ships that have experienced outbreaks of the virus do not at present have V.I. ports on their itineraries.
Amsterdam passenger Deloris Jones, a Canadian, sipped a complimentary drink while soaking in the afternoon sun on Veterans Drive as she waited for her daughter Ria to return from an Atlantis Submarine tour. "It's wonderful," she said of the cruise. "I've traveled with Holland America before, and I always have a wonderful time."
Jones said she had no trepidation about traveling on the Amsterdam for the fourth time, in spite of the virus outbreaks. "I've considered it the cleanest ship on the ocean," she said.
She was joined in that opinion by two sisters from Scotland, Sarah and Doris Bisland. It was Doris Bisland's 27th trip on board the Amsterdam, and her sister, who recently retired from her job as a school principal, was enjoying her fifth. They pronounced the trip great, the crew courteous and attentive, and the accommodations clean and comfortable.
"The ship is spotless," Sarah Bisland said. "The sheets are changed every day, and the towels are changed twice a day. It's very clean. There's not a single hint of any single person being unwell."
There was, however, one passenger who was taken off the ship and transported by ambulance to Roy L. Schneider Hospital as the Amsterdam weighed anchor at the end of the day. Amos Carty, hospital chief operating officer, said the man was taken to the emergency room and then was admitted to the hospital.
Carty said the man remained hospitalized late Thursday but had no further information about him.
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