The most common outbreak that occurs on a cruise ship is called the Noro virus. It is a highly contagious gastro-intestinal illness that strikes mainly where people are living in close quarters, and displays symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. There can’t be much worse than getting ill on your vacation, especially when you’re confined mainly to a tiny room with a port window and a constant sway of the ocean. While the Noro virus isn’t too serious an illness, the aggressive way it can spread on a cruise ship makes it particularly grotesque. The worst outbreaks are notable for the sheer volume of passengers afflicted and the way the crew dealt with the illness.
All major disease-related activity on cruise ships is required to be reported to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This information is aggregated and combined with passenger reports and other online news sources on Cruise Junkie, where information for this article was gathered.
Carnival Conquest, 12/12/11
This Carnival Cruise Lines ship was struck with the Noro virus and several passengers spoke out about the poor way the crew handled the situation. The crew seemed to try to keep knowledge of the outbreak at bay and neglected to inform most of the passengers that could have otherwise been more cautious about the spread. Inflicted passengers were isolated to their rooms without much in the way of food or drink. The sneaky way in which the crew kept the outbreak a secret is what worsened the situation in this cruise. Had they been a bit more forward in relaying the facts, the illness may have been less noteworthy, as it wouldn’t have attracted a public outcry.
Celebrity Constellation, 12/9/11
After a previous cruise gone awry, this cruise ship took precautions to a whole new level, spraying down the rooms with bleach after each event and restricting all passengers from any self-serving of food. A passenger commented that, “the prior cruise Istanbul/ Turkey was so bad it was reported people got #2 at the buffet, and in the Solarium Jacuzzi!!! The men in orange suits arrived, but people continued to eat.” The ship may have been spooked by the earlier outbreak, but the fact of the matter remains that there is little you can do to prevent Noro virus from spreading since as many as a few particles are enough to spread the disease from passenger to passenger. The best method is instructing everyone to engage in their own proper hygiene, not scare the passengers with aggressive bleaching and HASMAT suits.
A disgruntled passenger wrote that “400 passengers [were] taken ill” on this ship, on a cruise that generally accommodates about 3,000 people. Passengers were so inundated with sickness that they were vomiting in public areas around the ship, unable to make it to their rooms or public restrooms. While passengers were given free doctor visits, this does little to mitigate the situation, since there is no real treatment for the Noro virus but to expel it from your system and drink plenty of fluids.
Independence of the Seas, 11/5/09
A couple from this Royal Caribbean International cruise threatened to sue over contracting a serious bout of food poisoning on the ship. According to the couple, they “sent food back several times and also saw curdled milk and yogurts in faulty chiller cabinets,” implying a marked lack of sanitation on board. The husband experienced such intense illness that he lost a reported 10.5 pounds in weight as a result of the food poisoning. Unlike the Noro virus that must run its course, the food poisoning had to be treated with antibiotics.
Voyager of the Seas, 7/31/09
On this cruise, the crew took the brunt on the illness, with 60 crew members coming down with the Swine Flu and 70 showing possible signs of it. The crew was quarantined until they recovered and only one passenger was struck with H1N1. This ship did a decent job of confining the illness, although it was made more public to the media given that the Swine Flu had received so much negative attention. The Swine Flu presents typical flu-like symptoms, which are miserable to endure, but certainly not as bad as the doubled vomiting and diarrhea of the Noro virus.
Posted with permission of the author, Ashleigh Denton:
Ashleigh Denton’s passion for people and art has lead her to pursue a career in writing. At this time, Ashleigh is working as a part-time writer, specializing in
If you or someone you know contracted the Norovirus or were otherwise injured on a Cruise, feel free to contact the Cruise Injury Lawyers at Lawlor, Winston, White & Murphey at [email protected] or 954-525-2345 (toll-free 1-877-267-6022).