US cruise ship finally allowed to dock in Mauritius after tests show no cholera aboard

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A U.S.-owned luxury cruise ship with more than 3,000 passengers and crew was allowed to dock Monday in the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius after being quarantined offshore for a day over fears of a possible cholera outbreak onboard, authorities said.

The Mauritius government cleared the Norwegian Dawn, which is owned and run by the Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line company, to dock at the harbor in the capital, Port Louis, after health officials found no traces of cholera in tests conducted on the ship’s water.

Mauritius authorities blocked the ship from docking Sunday because 15 people onboard were ill with vomiting and diarrhea. The Mauritius Ports Authority said it took the decision “to avoid any health risks,” and sent officials onboard to collect samples to test.

The Mauritius government said the sick passengers who had been isolated after falling ill had mild cases of the viral infection gastroenteritis.

Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement that “a small number of guests experiencing mild symptoms of a stomach-related illness” and “no confirmed cases nor any evidence of cholera.”

The Mauritius government “required testing in an overabundance of caution,” it added.

Several countries in mainland southern Africa have experienced serious outbreaks of cholera over the last year, possibly leading to concern from authorities in Mauritius, an island nation of about 1.2 million people off the east coast of Africa that’s a popular tourist destination.

Cruise ships were problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many of them reporting outbreaks of that disease and having to be quarantined at ports.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says there’s a cholera epidemic in southern Africa, with a total of around 188,000 cases and 3,000 deaths in eight countries since January 2023.

Cholera spreads through food or water contaminated with the bacteria that causes it. Health officials were also testing the food onboard the Norwegian Dawn for cholera. Those test results hadn’t yet come back but authorities said they were satisfied that there was no cholera threat after the water tests were negative.

There were 2,184 passengers and 1,026 crew members onboard the Norwegian Dawn when it arrived in Mauritius, the ports authority said. Around 2,000 passengers were due to disembark in Mauritius and end their cruise and 2,279 new passengers were due to get onboard.

Health officials would still screen everyone leaving the ship, said Dr Bhooshun Ori, the director of health services at the Mauritius Ministry of Health.

Norwegian Cruise Line said passengers would now disembark the ship on Tuesday.

The 294-meter (964-feet) long Norwegian Dawn has 14 decks, with a casino, a theatre, and a video game arcade among its facilities.

A regular cabin starts at around $2,000 per person for a 12-day cruise, according to the company’s website. For $47,000, you can have a 3-bedroom Garden Villa that comes with a private garden, a hot tub, an outdoor dining area, and your butler service.

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