PASSENGERS on a Harwich-based cruise ship have been struck by a highly-contagious virus for the second time in a month.

More than 80 people aboard the Jewel of the Seas, were said to be suffering symptoms of the norovirus when it docked yesterday.

Earlier this month, 292 guests and 16 crew contracted the illness, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug.

Passengers due to join the ship this week were told it would be sailing later than planned to allow the vessel to be thoroughly cleaned.

The ship is owned by Royal Caribbean International, whose spokesman, Briony Peters, confirmed 86 guests had been hit by what was thought to be the norovirus.

She added: “Those affected by the short-lived illness responded well to over-the-counter medication being administered on board ship.

“At Royal Caribbean International, we have high health standards for all our guests and crew.

“In an abundance of caution, once Jewel of the Seas arrives in Harwich, we will conduct an extensive and thorough sanitizing on board the ship and within the cruise terminal, to help prevent any illness from affecting the subsequent sailing.”

The last time the ship had a problem, 600 people booked on the next sailing were diverted to Colchester United’s Weston Homes Community Stadium while the vessel was cleaned.

Leanne Sporle, Colchester United’s events coordinator, said the stadium had been unable to help this time.

Sh said: “Last time, they had 2,500 people looking to board and we said we could accommodate up to 600 guests.

“It was crazy. We put them in some of the rooms in the stadium and fed and watered them.

“We got a phone call this week from the same company to ask if we could do it again. but we were fully booked.”