What do you think about when you imagine going on a cruise? Most people would probably say things like sitting by the pool, taking in amazing sights, sipping delicious cocktails, enjoying onboard entertainment, and – most of all – relaxing. One thing that you’re not likely to imagine is spending large portions of your vacation hanging out with your toilet because you get sick on the trip.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to an astounding 66 passengers on a Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas cruise ship that docked in Miami last Friday.
Cruise Ships Are Incubators for Illnesses
The point of going on a cruise to a destination as opposed to booking a flight is that the journey itself is part of the vacation. You get a week – or two, or more – of people catering to your every need in an environment that’s free of stress and full of fun things to do. But when you’re stuck in a single space with hundreds and sometimes even thousands of people, often coming from all over the world, it’s far too easy for an outbreak to occur.
One of the main culprits on cruise ships is norovirus – stomach flu. These nasty bugs can cause people to suffer from vomiting and diarrhea for days at a time, and they thrive in places where there are lots of people crowded together for extended periods. This virus is believed to be responsible for about half of all bouts of foodborne gastroenteritis in the country, and it’s likely what caused the problem on the Royal Caribbean cruise.
Cruise ships, planes, and hotels are practically designed to help spread sickness – even when every crew member is incredibly diligent about keeping things clean. Norovirus specifically has been known to survive certain cleaning solutions and linger on surfaces for long periods of time. But part of the problem may be the methods that cruise ships are using. It’s not enough just to clean surfaces – you have to keep infected people away from food and each other, as well as making sure that the water stays clean if you really want to prevent disease from spreading, and some cruise lines don’t do this well enough. When this happens, people on cruises get sick or hurt.
What You Can Do to Keep Illness from Ruining Your Trip
Royal Caribbean stated in their comments to the media that people on the ship who contracted the virus “responded well” when they were given medicine – simple over-the-counter remedies – on board, but that had to be small comfort to those who were spending hard-earned money to stay inside their cabins instead of enjoying the trip. While there’s no way to completely account for and eliminate all chances of getting sick, there are several things that you can do to minimize your risks.
Keep your hands to yourself. The rails leading up to the ship, buttons on elevators, and so on are touched by practically everybody. If you can avoid touching these kinds of things as much as possible, you’ll be less likely to get sick.
Watch people. If the person in front of you at the buffet is sneezing, coughing, sniffling, sweating, or looking pale, you probably don’t want to handle any food that they touched. Also, avoid getting into elevators with anyone who is obviously sick.
Sanitize. You don’t have to carry around a spray disinfectant or only touch plates of food after wiping them down, but cleaning off things in your room (door knob, faucets, remote control, light switches) is a smart idea.
Ultimately, you can only do so much to prepare and take care on your own. The crew also needs to do their jobs, and if an outbreak occurs and you’re caught in it, the fault may not lie with you. If you were a passenger on this Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas cruise, or the Explorer of the Seas cruise, and have come down with the norovirus or have been injured in any way on a cruise ship, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at the law firm of Lawlor, Winston, White & Murphey TODAY by calling (954) 525-2345 or Toll-Free (855) 347-5475.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphy. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”