T&C cruise terminal closes after illness outbreak

Associated Press

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands (AP) — The tourist board in the Turks & Caicos Islands announced Tuesday that the cruise terminal on Grand Turk has been temporarily closed.

Cruise lines starting cancelling port calls to Grand Turk on March 11 after passengers suffered from symptoms of gastroenteritis after visiting the Grand Turk Cruise Center in the British Caribbean territory.

In its Tuesday statement, the British territory's tourist board didn't say why or when the nearly 18-acre Grand Turk Cruise Center closed. Board Director Ralph Higgs said local authorities were addressing the problem and hoped to reopen the terminal soon.

In Turks & Caicos, the general manager of the Grand Turk Cruise Center declined comment and referred queries to Carnival Corp., which opened the terminal in 2006.

Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said the Miami-based company was "investigating whether there may be a link with consumption of food and beverages while guests were ashore in Grand Turk."

Gulliksen said Carnival and other cruise lines cancelled port calls to Grand Turk to be cautious and are monitoring the situation while authorities try to determine the cause of the illness.

Various cruise lines rerouted their ships or extended their stays in ports in Puerto Rico, Bahamas and other locales.

A Florida-based spokesman for the cruise center said Tuesday afternoon that numerous experts, working with local health officials, have been examining and testing food and water at the cruise terminal over the last two weeks.

"Multiple measures are currently being taken to ensure the quality of all food, water and sanitation systems going forward," spokesman Buck Banks wrote in an email. He said he works for a public relations company hired by the cruise terminal.

The Grand Turk Cruise Center declined to provide information about when the terminal closed to ships, but the terminal's port schedule listed no arrivals after March 13. The port includes a 45,000-square-foot shopping center, a big swimming pool and numerous food and beverage outlets.

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