An 89 year old grandmother has come close to death after contracting salmonella onboard Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ Astor last month. Shirley Faulkin was one of 13 passengers who contracted the illness during the cruise, with some dodgy canapes the likely culprit. Ms Faulkin was so unwell that her family called a priest to administer the last rites and she has been forced to spend a month in hospital recovering.

It’s the latest in a number of highly publicised outbreaks over the recent cruise season. What makes it unusual is the cause – most cases involve norovirus, a highly contagious form of gastroenteritis that is easily spread from person to person. Salmonella on the other hand is generally caused by contaminated food. The symptoms for both illnesses are largely the same and equally unpleasant.

Princess Cruises was hit by norovirus twice this season, with 150 passengers falling ill on Diamond Princess in February and more than 300 sick passengers onboard Golden Princess in March. In December, 180 people were struck down with norovirus on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas.

P&O’s brand new Pacific Eden had a horror start to its first season with two norovirus outbreaks in December. 60 passengers out of 1,500 fell ill during a 12-night Queensland cruise that was also plagued by flooding and leaks. The pool was closed for portions of the cruise due to the gastro outbreak and an unidentified (but no doubt unsanitary) “guest incident”. This came off the back of an outbreak on the previous cruise, which forced P&O to push back the departure time while the ship was sanitised.