With the holiday just around the corner, many are taking breaks from work for a long holiday. At a season like this, going on a long cruise seems a titillating idea. The news of virus outbreaks in several cruises this year, however, can make you think twice about the safety of cruising.
On the verge of making a decision, you would like to ask, “Is It Safe To Take A Cruise? 8 Virus Outbreaks In 3 Months.” This is one question you would want answered; go and read about it in Forbes- Health Section. The article is written by Melanie Haiken and the article was posted around April of 2014. This early, the cruise industry has already been hit by no less than eight virus outbreaks.
Yesterday, reports hit the news of another Princess Cruise with a boatload of sick passengers. This time it was the Crown Princess, on a weeklong voyage along the coast of Southern California and Mexico, with an outbreak of norovirus…
Also this week came the news that two consecutive trips on the Royal Caribbean ship Grandeur of the Seas departing to the islands from Baltimore were afflicted with outbreaks of norovirus, one of them affecting more than 100 passengers…
The back-to-back outbreaks certainly seem to suggest that the ship was not cleaned thoroughly enough or that a sick crew member brought the illness back on board.
Aside from these bouts of norovirus outbreaks, earlier outbreaks were reported:
- Early February – A norovirus outbreak afflicted more than 600 passengers of the luxurious Explorer of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean voyage. It is considered one of the biggest outbreaks on any cruise in the last 20 years.
- Earlier than that – A norovirus outbreak affected nearly 200 people on board the Caribbean Princess. The voyage was cut short by two days but the official reason cited for its early return is poor visibility due to fog.
- Late February and early March, 2014 – There were two episodes two virus outbreaks (one was conclusively identified as norovirus) onboard Holland America’s ships, namely ms Maasdam and ms Veendam while touring the Caribbean.
“In all, according to CDC data, epidemics of gastrointestinal illness have broken out on eight cruise ships so far in just the first 13 weeks of 2014. Of these, norovirus is the established cause of the outbreak in at least five.”
CDC reported 16 gastrointestinal outbreaks due to norovirus in 2012 and nine outbreaks in 2013. For 2014, these eight outbreaks were reported just in the first four months of the year.
Just recently “Princess Cruises ship docked in San Pedro early Sunday after nearly 170 people on board fell ill in the ship’s second outbreak of norovirus this year, officials said.” (LA News – LA Now,November 16, 2014)
It is not just Princess, Holland America and Royal Caribbean that are having bouts of norovirus infections on board their cruise ships. Last year (2013) there were four Celebrity cruise ships that similarly experienced same kinds of infections as well as Crystal, Cunard, Prestige, and Lindblad Expeditions.
These norovirus episodes and outbreaks have eroded public trust in the cruise industry. According to a Harris poll, 54 percent of those asked are likely not to go on a cruise and would prefer the safety of air travel as a mode of transport during this holiday season.
Ships are more vulnerable because of the large number of passengers thrown in a limited space where they are allowed to mingle during meals and doing activities together. The navy prevents outbreaks by isolating the sick sailors, which is something the cruise management can’t do to its paying guests.
You can’t, of course, just live your life in fear. If you are cruising this holiday, make sure you armed to the teeth – know how you can avoid a norovirus infection, be cognizant of its signs and symptoms, and know what to do once you get the bug.