Norovirus has apparently hit a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, leaving 68 people with more than just seasickness. There were nearly 2,600 guests with 844 crew on board the Majesty of the Seas. 66 guests and 2 crewmembers were down with what appeared to be norovirus, and as the ship docked, everyone was happy to go home to their own beds.
Passenger Frank Weinger said he was unable to enjoy the Bahamas due to having spent the entire previous day in the bathroom. Following the outbreak, passengers were given a letter, warning them of the possible norovirus, and urging them to take extra health precautions. Royal Caribbean will also be following up on the passengers over the next couple of days, determining whether or not they have had gastrointestinal issues. As norovirus hits Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, many are realizing this is not the cruise line’s first run-in with the illness.
In 2013, a Royal Caribbean ship arrived in port with over 100 passengers felled as a result of norovirus, and while the ship underwent an overall cleansing following the outbreak, there were still concerns over the virus. In fact, there have been cruise ships that have experienced outbreaks of the virus at least once a year for the last several. While norovirus has long been thought of as a “cruise ship” illness, this is not the case. The nature of any disease is that it spreads rapidly throughout any confined space, and can be passed from person to person easily. A virus such as norovirus is foodborne, airborne or waterborne, so it’s critical that anyone who may be risking exposure to the virus is taking the time to appropriately clean their hands and any surfaces they are dealing with. As a result, if people are in a relatively confined space such as a cruise ship, the virus can spread fairly easily.
There are 19 to 21 million cases of norovirus yearly, and this can result in as many as 800 deaths from the virus, according to statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The illness can result in diarrhea, vomiting, fever, stomach pains, headaches, and generalized nausea. Anyplace with an outbreak of norovirus should be focused on keeping their cooking and baking surfaces clean, in addition to regularly washing their hands and ensuring that surfaces have been sanitized.
Royal Caribbean has said that they are willing to help those who have recently scheduled a trip with the company reschedule their travels if they don’t feel comfortable in travelling so soon after the norovirus outbreak. Some families have revealed that they have stocked up on medication specifically to address any nausea or any other symptoms of norovirus. Royal Caribbean took their cleaning routines up to the next level when they pulled into port following a 4-day cruise through the Bahamas, ensuring that everything was completely sanitized prior to their next departure with another complement of passengers. However, the company did note that an outbreak of norovirus can certainly sour people’s attitudes about taking a cruise.
Although norovirus has hit Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines previously, the company plans to continue their vigilance in helping their passengers deal with the illness, should the illness occur again.
By Christina St-Jean