Cruise Ship Norovirus

Cruise Ship Norovirus
3.84 (76.86%) 102 votes

Here are listed latest cruise ship Norovirus outbreaks on passenger ships, with information what is and how to avoid Norovirus on cruise ships, CDC reports and news updates.

Cruise ship Norovirus outbreaks

This survey is based on official data from (“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”). CDC’s “Vessel Sanitation Program” assists the cruising industry to prevent and control the transmission and spread of gastrointestinal illnesses (Noro virus, ETEC) on passenger ships calling on US ports.Cruise Ship Norovirus - cruise minus

This program operates under the authority of the Public Health Service Act (, “Quarantine and Inspection Regulations to Control Communicable Diseases”).

CDC sanitation inspections on passenger ships are conducted twice a year. Scores of 86 are considered passing. Among the issues that CDC health inspectors usually find on board and report are:

  • food debris
  • dead insects
  • insect droppings
  • records indicating crewmembers (including cooks and galley staff) working while sick (suffering from gastrointestinal disorders or with acute gastroenteritis/AGE symptoms)
  • cracked/corroded equipment
  • soiled cutting boards
  • food served undercooked
  • lack of safety instruction signs.

CDC cruise ship Norovirus reports

Cruise ship outbreaks are reported (posted on the CDC website) when the illness incident meets the following criteria:

  • The ship falls within the purview of Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP). This means if it carries 13+ passengers and has a foreign cruise itinerary with US ports of call in it. Keep in mind, that most departures are from US-based home ports.
  • The ship cruise itinerary length is between 3 and 21 days,
  • The ship carries 100+ passengers.
  • The percentage of infected passengers or crew (cases reported to the ship’s med staff) during the cruise is 3% or more. This means small outbreaks on cruise ships will not be reported to CDC.

CDC cruise ship inspection fees are payable by the shipowner. Fees are based on the vessel’s size. VSP doesn’t charge fees for consultations related to ship facilities renovations or new ships. Inspection fees are as follow:

  • Small ships (under 3000 gross tons) pay US$ 1500 per inspection.
  • Small ships (between 3000 and 15000 gross tons) pay US$ 3000 per inspection.
  • Medium ships (between 15000 and 30000 gross tons) pay US$ 6000 per inspection.
  • Large ships (between 30000 and 60000 gross tons) pay US$ 9000 per inspection.
  • Extra large ships (between 60000 and 120000 gross tons) pay US$ 12000 per inspection.
  • Mega ships (above 120000 gross tons) pay US$ 18000 per inspection.

Note: When the itinerary doesn’t include US cruise ports, the ship is not required to report to CDC, thus no official illness outbreak report would be issued.

Illness outbreaks on cruise ships (statistics)

The following statistics shows the number of cruise ship illness outbreaks in recent years. You can compare number of reports and total number of infected (passengers and crew).

Year Number of reported cruise ship outbreaks (CDC & news media) Total infected (passengers / crew)
2016 20 reports 2384 (of which 2278 pax, 106 crew)
2015 23 reports 2570 (of which 2458 pax, 112 crew)
2014 14 reports 3530 (of which 3354 pax, 205 crew)
2013 22 reports 2385 (of which 2249 pax, 136 crew)
2012 34 reports 5542 (of which 5079 pax, 463 crew)
2011 23 reports 1971 (of which 1834 pax, 137 crew)
2010 37 reports 7101 (of which 6799 pax, 302 crew)
2009 30 reports 4197 (of which 3800 pax, 397 crew)
2008 39 reports 3743 (of which 3465 pax, 278 crew)
2007 42 reports 4577 (of which 4228 pax, 349 crew)
2006 54 reports 7215 (of which 6567 pax, 648 crew)
2005 35 reports 4674 (of which 4110 pax, 564 crew)
2004 42 reports 3675 (of which 3189 pax, 486 crew)
2003 44 reports 3556 (of which 3159 pax, 397 crew)
2002 43 reports 3530 (of which 3211 pax, 319 crew)

In 2014, Time Magazine published an article titled “The 13 Worst Norovirus Outbreaks on Cruise Ships”. In the article, the overall winner was the Princess Cruises company with 5 epidemic illness outbreaks: Coral Princess (February 2009, infected 271), Crown Princess (January 2010, infected 396), Crown Princess (February 2012, infected 363), Sun Princess (July 2012, infected 216) and Ruby Princess (March 2013, infected 276).

Norovirus cruise ships 2017 news & reports

In the following table you can see all 2017 Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships. The listed statistical data is based on CDC or news media reports. It shows the number of sick passengers and crew (with the respective percentage to all), along with the CDC report pages (if available) via outgoing links.

Note: When the itinerary doesn’t include US cruise ports, the ship is not required to report to CDC, thus no official illness report would be issued.

Lines / Ships Sail Dates / Itinerary Sick Passengers / All Passengers (%) Ill Crew-Staff / All Crew-Staff (%)
Coral Princess (March 8-18) 10-day Caribbean and Panama Canal roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale FL 157 / 2016 (7,8%) 25 / 881 (2,8%)

CDC report

Sea Princess (Jan 8 – Apr 7) 90-day “World Cruise” roundtrip from Brisbane Australia 11 na
Sun Princess (Jan 22 – Feb 2) 12-day roundtrip from Brisbane Australia to Papua New Guinea

(Feb 2 – 16) 14-day roundtrip from Brisbane Australia to New Zealand





Cruise ship virus outbreaks 2016 reports

In 2016, the number of reported illness outbreaks on cruise ships was 20. The total number of infected was 2384 (of those 2278 passengers and 106 crew).

Lines / Ships Sail Dates / Itinerary Sick Passengers / All Passengers (%) Ill Crew-Staff / All Crew-Staff (%)
Sun Princess (Dec 10-18) 9-day Australia cruise from Adelaide to Fremantle-Perth na na
(Holland America) MS Oosterdam (Nov 3-18) 16day Transatlantic cruise from Rome-Civitavecchia to Tampa Florida 90 / 1843 (4,9%) 22 / 796 (2,8%)
CDC report
fathom Adonia (Oct 16-23) 7day Cuba cruise from Miami 23 / 668 (3,4%) 2 / 388 (0,5%)
CDC report
Disney Wonder ()Apr 27 – May 1) 4day Bahamas from Miami 131 / 2680 (4,9%) 14 / 991 (1,4%)
CDC report
Fred Olsen ms Balmoral (Apr 16 – May 20) 34day Transatlantic roundtrip to USA and Canada from Southampton England (UK) 252 / 919 (27,4%) 8 / 520 (1,5%)
CDC report
Oceania Riviera (Mar 20 – Apr 3) 14day Southern Caribbean from Miami 52 / 1204 (4,3%) 0 / 776 (0%)
CDC report
Norwegian Gem (Mar 12 – 22) 10day Eastern Caribbean from NYC New York 128 / 2882 (4,4%) 7 / 1100 (0,6%)
CDC report
Golden Princess (Mar 8 – 22) 14day South Pacific Islands from Melbourne Australia ? ?
Silver Spirit ( Mar 3 – 21) 18day South America from Valparaiso-Santiago to Fort Lauderdale 24 / 388 (6,2%) 13 / 366 (3,6%)
CDC report
Carnival Sunshine (Feb 21 – Mar 5) 13day Southern Caribbean from Port Canaveral 118 / 3005 (3,9%) 5 / 1142 (0,4%)
CDC report
Anthem of the Seas (Feb 21 – Mar 4) 12day Southern Caribbean from Cape Liberty (New Jersey, NYC) 125 / 4061 (3,1%) 16 / 1592 (1%)
CDC report
Ocean Princess

renamed to Oceania Sirena

(Feb 13 – Mar 7) 23day South America repositioning from Valparaiso to Miami 43 / 603 (7,1%) 5 / 387 (1,3%)
CDC report
Oceania Riviera (Feb 12 – 22) 10day Eastern Caribbean roundtrip from Miami FL 79 / 1225 (6,5%) 3 / 773 (0,4%)
CDC report
Crown Princess (Jan 8 – 18) 10day Mexico Riviera roundtrip from Los Angeles CA 180 / 3060 (5,9%) 24 / 1168 (2,1%)
CDC report

Cruise ship virus outbreaks 2015 reports

In 2015, the number of reported illness outbreaks on cruise ships was 23. The total number of infected was 2570 (of those 2458 passengers and 112 crew).

Lines / Ships Sail Dates / Itinerary Sick Passengers / All Passengers (%) Ill Crew-Staff / All Crew-Staff (%)
Pacific Eden (Dec 16 – 28) 12day Christmas Cruise round-trip from Sydney Australia 60 passengers and crew (or 4% of all ~1500)
ms Veendam (Dec 20 – 27) 7day Mexican Riviera round-trip from San Diego CA 57 / 1429 (4%) 10 / 588 (1,7%)
CDC report
Caribbean Princess (Dec 13 – 20) 7day Western Caribbean round-trip from Houston Texas 163 / 3239 (5%) 13 / 1154 (1,1%)
CDC report
Caribbean Princess (Dec 13 – 20) 7day Western Caribbean round-trip from Houston Texas
Explorer of the Seas (Dec 2 – 16) 14day Australia to New Zealand, round-trip from Sydney AU 182 passengers and crew (or 3,9% of all 3566 passengers plus 1139 crew)
Oceania Riviera (18 Nov – 2 Dec) 14day Transatlantic from Barcelona to Miami FL 59 / 1160 (5,1%) 10 / 776 (1,3%)
CDC report
Star Princess (29 April – 14 May) 15day Hawaii from San Francisco CA 135 / 2588 (5,2%) 16 / 1093 (1,5%)
CDC report
Oceania Marina (21 Apr – 7 May) 16day South America (through Panama Canal) from Callao Peru to New York City NY 69 / 1185 (5,8%) 11 / 769 (1,4%)
CDC report
Maasdam (17 Apr – 1 May) 14day roundtrip Southern Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale FL 67 / 1138 (5,9%) 12 / 578 (2,1%)
CDC report
Coral Princess (Alaska repositioning, Apr 12 – 27) 15day Panama Canal transit from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles 71 / 1958 (3,6%) 6 / 881 (0,7%)
CDC report
Legend of the Seas (30 Mar – 14 Apr) 15day Panama Canal transition cruise from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego 114 / 1763 (6,5%) 2 / 747 (0,3%)
CDC report
Celebrity Infinity (29 Mar – 13 Apr) 15day Panama Canal transit from Ft Lauderdale to San Diego  95 / 2117 (4,5%) 5 / 964 (0,5%)
CDC report
Celebrity Equinox (13-23 Feb) 10day Eastern-Southern Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale 95 / 2896 (3,3%) 7 / 1209 (0,6%)
CDC report

Cruise ship virus outbreaks 2014 reports

In 2014, the number of reported illness outbreaks on cruise ships was 17. The total number of infected was 3559 (of those 3354 passengers and 205 crew).

Lines / Ships Sail Dates Sick Passengers / All Passengers (%) Ill Crew-Staff / All Crew-Staff (%)
Crown Princess (5-12 Apr) 7day California cruise from Los Angeles 122 / 3161 (3,9%) 30 / 1176 (2,6%)
CDC report
Dawn Princess (18 Oct – 16 Nov) New Zealand cruise from Melbourne 158 / 3009 (5,25%) 14 / 1160 (1,2%)
Grandeur of the Seas (28 Mar – 5 Apr) 8day Baltimore to Bahamas 111 / 2122 (5,2%) 6 / 790 (0,8%)
CDC report
Maasdam (2-28 Mar) 26day Amazon/South America from Rio de Janeiro to Ft Lauderdale 65 / 1096 (5,9%) 8 / 569 (1,4%)
CDC report
Veendam (8-22 Feb) Panama Canal from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale 114 / 1273 (9%) 10 / 575 (1,7%)
CDC report
Caribbean Princess (25 Jan – 1 Feb) 7day Western Caribbean (Belize and Mexico) cruise from Houston TX 181 / 3102 (5,8%) 11 / 1148 (1%)
CDC report
Explorer of the Seas (21-27 Jan) 10day Caribbean cruise from Cape Liberty (Bayonne) NJ 577 / 3050 (18,9%) 49 / 1165 (4,2%)
CDC report
Majesty of the Seas (20-24 Jan) 4day Caribbean cruise from Miami 66 pax 2 crew (no CDC report)
Norwegian Star (5-19 Jan) 7day Mexican Riviera cruise from LA 130 / 2318 (5,61%) 12 / 1039 (1,15%)
CDC report

Cruise ship virus outbreaks 2013 reports

In 2013, the number of reported illness outbreaks on cruise ships was 22. The total number of infected was 2385 (of those 2249 passengers and 136 crew).

  • According to CDC, in 2013 from Norovirus and similar GI (gastrointestinal) illnesses suffered a total of 1409 passengers (which is 7,5% of all passengers on the inspected cruise vessels) and 96 crew/staff members (which is 1,2% of all). With nearly 12 million cruisers departing from USA and Canada ports in 2013, the Norovirus infection rate is ~0,01% of all passengers.
  • It should be noted, that in the past years on many CDC inspections was concluded the Noro virus illness source was off the ship.
Lines / Ships Sail Dates Sick Passengers / All Passengers (%) Ill Crew-Staff / All Crew-Staff (%)
Carnival Miracle 6-16 Mar ~2% (no official data)
Cause was Grand Turk. Next departure was delayed 3 hrs due to sanitation.
Celebrity Constellation 25 Sept – 7 Oct (Black Sea cruise (also stopping in Bulgaria /Bourgas)) On Oct 5, more than 90 passengers (crew unknown) with Norovirus symptoms were taken to the Burgas Municipal hospital (no official data)
Celebrity Infinity 17 Mar – 1 Apr 101 / 2086 (4,84%) 17 / 927 (2%)
CDC report
Celebrity Millennium 25 Apr – 10 May 123 / 1963 (6,28%) 16 / 935 (1,7%)
CDC report
Celebrity Solstice 8-26 Apr

178 / 2849 (6,25%)

2 / 1188 (0,18%)
CDC report
Crystal Symphony 29 Apr – 6 May

125 / 816 (15,3%)

22 / 571 (3,9%)
CDC report
Cunard Queen Elizabeth 4 Feb – 12 Mar

84 / 1900+ (4,4%)

(no official data)
Veendam 13 Apr – 4 May

60 / 1237 (4,9%)

10 / 574 (1,7%)
CDC report
Ruby Princess 3-10 Mar

266 / 3129 (8,5%)

10 / 1189 (0,8%)
CDC report
Vision of the Seas 25 Feb – 8 Mar

118 / 1991 (5,9%)

3 / 765 (0,4%)
CDC report.
Fred Olsen Black Watch
  1. 2 Oct
  2. 20 Sept
  3. 8 Sept
  4. 1 Sept
  1. 131 / 737
  2. 130
  3. 54
  4. 118
(no official data)
Grand Turk was bypassed as call port by several ships due to a gastrointestinal outbreak there. The cruise terminal was temporarily closed (March 26 through April 4) – according to the port schedule, there were no arrivals after March 13, 2013. The list of lines/ships that skipped the island:

  1. Eurodam
  2. Nieuw Amsterdam
  3. Ruby Princess
  4. Carnival Breeze
  5. Carnival Liberty
  6. Carnival Victory
affected sailings

  1. Mar16
  2. Mar17
  3. Princess – Mar31
  4. Mar30
  5. Mar30
  6. Apr1


  1. to San Juan
  2. to San Juan
  3. Ruby to Nassau
  4. to Nassau
  5. to extend San Juan
  6. to Freeport
itinerary changes included:

  • adding a sea day
  • rerouting ships or extending port stays in Puerto Rico & Bahamas
  • all pre-booked Grand Turk excursions and port taxes were fully refunded in the form of OBC.

Grand Turk authorities didn’t find the cause of the illness. The cruise terminal and the near area were thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

Cruise ship virus outbreaks 2012

In 2012, the number of reported illness outbreaks on cruise ships was 34. The total number of infected was 5542 (of those 5079 passengers and 463 crew).

Lines / Ships Sailing Dates Sick Guests / All Guests (%) Sick Crew-Staff / All Crew-Staff (%)
Carnival Glory 6-11 Aug

205 / 3652 (5,6%)

3 / 1144 (0,26%)

Celebrity Constellation 28 Jan – 10 Feb

102 / 1992 (5,1%)

12 / 946 (1,3%)

Celebrity Silhouette 29 Jan – 10 Feb

178 / 2809 (6,3%)

11 / 1236 (0,9%)

Cunard Queen Mary 2 22 Dec – Jan 3

204 / 2613 (7,8%)

16 / 1255 (1,3%)

Crown Princess
  • 28 Jan – 4 Feb
  • 4-9 Feb
  • 364 / 3103 (11,7%)
  • 288 / 3078 (9,4%)
Dawn Princess 21 Aug – 13 Sept

114 / 1778 (6,4%)

11 / 851 (1,3%)

Emerald Princess 17-27 Dec

189 / 3235 (5,8%)

31 / 1189 (2,6%)

Ruby Princess
  • 26 Feb – 4 Mar
  • 9-28 Oct
  • 129 / 3147 (4,1%)
  • 149 / 2971 (5%)
  • 9 / 1179 (0,8%)
  • 14 / 1177 (1,2%)
Sun Princess 8-21 Jul

201 / 1918 (10,5%)

15 / 836 (1,8%)

P&O Aurora 4-26 Jan

145 / 1727 (8,4%)

8 / 850 (0,9%)

Oceania Riviera 15-29 Nov

37 / 1019 (3,6%)

13 / 767 (1,7%)

ms Amsterdam 11 Nov – 5 Dec

85 / 791 (10,8%)

6 / 610 (1%)

Rhapsody of the Seas 24-31 Aug

153 / 2129 (7,2%)

6 / 812 (0,7%)

Voyager of the Seas 28 Jan – 4 Feb

248 / 3139 (7,9%)

11 / 1192 (0,9%)

Norovirus on cruise ships

(all important things you should know about the “cruise virus”)Norovirus cruise ships

  • Why Norovirus incidents happen on cruise ships? There are more than 21 million US cases reported annually, of which 1 mill related to kids. Outbreaks happen mostly during winter months and mainly in more crowded places with close quarters. Among those are schools, hospitals, nursing homes, dormitories, prisons, big resorts, bigger passenger ships (including cruise ferries). Norovirus is often branded as “cruise ship virus” simply because on ships health officials are required to report every gastrointestinal illness incident. This means Norovirus outbreaks are reported more quickly on ships than on land. Just for comparison, the Noro virus can afflict as many as 3000 people per day in only one big city, which is about the passenger capacity of a typical modern cruiser.
  • What is Norovirus infection? It’s a very common, highly contagious, ruthlessly efficient and uncomfortably bad virus affecting the stomach and large intestines. Often called “stomach flu” (the med term is “Gastroenteritis”) the infection results in massive vomiting and diarrhea. Sickness outbreaks are considered as such if the percentage of infected people is over 3%.
  • The Noro virus illness is not seasonal and usually not serious (in med terms). It hits 1 in 5 people annually. It is the cause for about 50% of all foodborne illness outbreaks in the USA and for 90% of all non-bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide.
  • The virus is named after an outbreak in Norwalk (OH, USA). Numerous studies confirm that a quick application of hand sanitizer don’t kill the Noro virus. It takes about 30 sec of hard rubbing with hot water and soap (including under the nails) to wash it. This virus also mutates (changing its strains). As to its efficiency – a mere 20 particles are enough to get you.
  • what causes cruise ship virus outbreaks - symptoms, treatment, factsWhat causes Norovirus on cruise ships is mainly contaminated food/water. When it comes to ships, it spreads mostly through physical contact with sick people or handling contaminated objects. This includes sharing food/utensils and poor hygiene (not washing hands after bathroom use). The virus also spreads fecally, so you can catch it into the onboard laundry, or while changing diapers, etc. However, many passengers likely can blame a sick crewmember for the virus. According to a survey based on 170 inspection records on ships that docked in Florida ports in 2012, on 59 cruises violations of the required illness reporting laws were reported. A total of 130 crew had gotten sick on those voyages and didn’t report their illness in the required time period.
  • The symptoms of Norovirus are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, abdominal cramps. Also possible are mild fever and headache. It takes 1-2 days for the symptoms to appear. The illness lasts 1 to 4 days, but some people (especially elderly) may be contagious for up to 2 weeks after recovery.
  • What is the treatment for Noro virus and what to do if you got it? Obviously, first thing is to go to the ship’s infirmary (medical center) and contact the doctor. You should drink plenty of water as dehydration is a side-effect of the illness. There is no real treatment for Norovirus – you just wait it out. A few years ago an experimental Norovirus vaccine (applied as nasal spray) was developed by the “Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology” (Arizona State University). The new vaccine generates a good immune response.

How to avoid Norovirus on cruise ships?

  1. how to avoid Norovirus on cruise ships (infographic)Wash your hands often (hot water & soap), especially before/after eating and after using the bathroom
  2. Limit physical contacts as much as possible, pack some extra soap, a personal disinfectant  (Lysol, Pepto-Bismol), oral rehydration sachets & treatments for diarrhea
  3. Avoid eating uncooked food (including salads & sandwiches) and food that cannot be washed (unless it can be peeled or shelled), drink only bottled liquids (preferably without ice), don’t share drinks/utensils.
  4. Drink lots of water.
  5. Compensation for cruise illness. By contract, cruise lines are not required to compensate passengers who fall ill on cruises. However, they will compensate you if the itinerary was altered/canceled due to an illness outbreak. The deal may include up to 50% refund, up to 50% FCC (future cruise booking discount) or an option to cancel for a full refund plus reimbursement of airline change fees. If you have a travel insurance, it covers a cancellation due to illness. If you’ve been infected on the ship, it could also cover medical expenses and to compensate you for all days you’re not on the ship before the cruise end.

The following “health advisory” list of recommended actions is often issued during gastrointestinal illness outbreak or on embarkation day (of the next scheduled voyage). It has important suggestions how to avoid spreading the cruise ship virus infection.

  • It is critical that excellent standards of personal hygiene are maintained by all on board, as well as avoiding touching surfaces, such as handrails, door handles, elevator buttons, walls.
  • Report any observed evidence of vomiting or diarrhoea that you may encounter on the ship.
  • Ensure that you minimize direct contact with others during this time, such as handshakes, etc.
  • Avoid touching your mouth.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap for at least 20 sec and rinse them  well under running water. Ensure that you follow this procedure every time you use the WC, after coughing or sneezing, and before eating, drinking or smoking.
  • Attempt to always use your own cabin toilet facilities.
  • In addition to hand washing, also use the alcohol hand gels provided where available, and in particular before eating in the self-serve buffet restaurant and outdoor food outlets.
  • Should you experience any symptoms of vomiting or diarrhoea, return to your cabin and immediately report to the Medical Center or Front Office (Reception, if the infirmary is busy) by dialing 999.

The Noro cruise ship virus procedures

What they do about it? What actions do lines/operators/CDC actually take in response to a Norovirus cruise outbreak?

  • An “illness outbreak” is considered when 3% or more of all passengers report symptoms to the ship’s med staff. In such cases, CDC requires cruise lines to file a medical report.
  • The hotel staff is required to implement special cleaning and disinfection procedures for sanitizing the whole ship. To do that, they use stronger solvents, like Microbac, chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide. The Lido Deck’s bistro/buffet service switches to manned stations. Often, salt&pepper shakers are taken off the tables. The crew starts offering precautionary tips. Sick passengers and crew are quarantined in their rooms, typically for at least 2 days. When Norovirus outbreaks can’t be contained, cruise lines might also pull the ship out of service for a few days for sanitizing.
  • The CDC’s “Vessel Sanitation Program” is for monitoring illness outbreaks on passenger ships carrying 100 or more guests on sailings from 3 to 21 days in length. The ship’s medical staff is required by the CDC to maintain illness counts for each itinerary involving a stop at an US cruise port and to give CDC the number of all passengers/crew, plus the number of reported diarrhea cases during that voyage. This is done 24 hrs prior to arrival at any US port of call from a foreign port. And they file such reports even if the “illness number” is zero. This protocol only confirms that CDC knows everything about it.
  • Other possible actions and results are red level (“Code Red”) cleaning. The boarding / embarkation of new passengers is often delayed to permit more extensive disinfection of public areas and the cabins. Usually, a pre-embarkation health advisory is distributed to all boarding passengers. Additional med staff is sent to the ship in port to assist the disembarkation of infected passengers. Another possibility is the cruise ship to cancel all the itinerary’s foreign ports of call and to return to its US home-port before the end of voyage.
  • Some cruise lines offer hand-sanitizer dispensers near the ship’s restaurants, Lido/pool deck areas and other more crowded public spaces in their effort to keep a lid on sickness outbreaks.

Zika virus illness on cruise ships

Zika virus (aka ZIKV) is a Flavivirus – from the genus of the viruses named West Nile, dengue, tick-borne encephalitis, yellow fever. These plus several other viruses may cause encephalitis (acute brain inflammation). In humans, Zika virus causes the Zika fever which is known to occur only within some equatorial regions. In 2014, Zika spread across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia, and soon to Easter Island. In 2015, Zika virus reached Central America, Caribbean and South America. In South America were recorded several pandemic outbreaks. The most severe outbreaks were reported in Brazil, with an alarming surge in newborns with microcephaly.If the mother is infected, the virus may cause microcephaly in newborns. This is a neurodevelopmental disorder – babies are born with an underdeveloped head.

Generally, Zika is a mosquito-borne virus spread by Aedes aegypti (aka “yellow fever mosquito”) and Aedes albopictus (aka “Asian tiger mosquito”). However, it became “cruise virus” since the decease can also result from intrauterine (contraceptive device), sexual intercourse, blood transfusion, lab exposure, organ/tissue transplantation, breast milk transmission.Zika virus - Aedes aegypti mosquito

  • In January 2016, CDC issued travel guidance on affected countries and suggested using enhanced precautions and even postponing travel. Guidelines specifically for pregnant women were issued as well. Similar travel warnings were also issued by other governments and health agencies.
  • The CDC list of potentially dangerous for travel countries includes (alphabetically) Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti , Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Salvador, Samoa, St Maarten, Suriname, Venezuela.
  • Cruise lines should warn their pregnant passengers of the Zika virus. Cruise ships publish daily health and safety instructions to their passengers on how to avoid mosquito bites.
  • Zika virus illness symptoms are fever, skin rash, pain in joints, conjunctivitis (pink eye). It typically lasts from a few days to a week. For now, the illness cannot be prevented by drugs or vaccines.
  • These links are to the Zika page at Wikipedia and to the travel warning (“Guidelines for Pregnant Women”) at CDC.

The cruise ship virus conspiracy

Cruise Ship Virus - Cruise MinusVirus outbreaks on cruise ships are actually not that uncommon. Such viral/bacterial outbreak incidents affect the vacation experience of thousands of people, being packed up in a floating resort for many days on end. In confined spaces with frequent passenger turnover (like big capacity cruise ships) it is easy for diseases to spread – whether food- or air-borne, or otherwise. However, there’s a tendency to cover up the severity of this issue. Some of the world’s most famous ship names are listed in the virus outbreak statistics, yet one hears so little of it in mass media news. And there is no surprise in that, since the “cruise illness” news are nothing but bad publicity for the companies – which is bad for a prosperous multi-billion dollar sea travel vacation business.

All major cruise line companies will do their best to keep quiet about virus outbreaks on their ships. There are passenger testimonials about quarantined ships and how badly guests have been treated by the line. Virus outbreak news speak of lack of proper hygiene control, badly trained staff, bad ship management. The whole responsibility goes to the cruise ship line and its management. A major (in some cases epidemic) illness outbreaks are among the “biggies” that can bring down the brand’s reputation on the market. Cruise illness issues often result in lower booking rates and cheaper prices – which is bad for the business

So it comes as no surprise that when CDC reports an illness outbreak on some vessel, big media sources do not immediately (or ever) respond to the news. You may hear about it on your local radio station, or on your local cable operator, but not necessarily on ABC, CNN, and often not even on Yahoo and MSN news online. It’s not about the passengers health (never been) – it’s about the big money that rules our world. So keep your hands clear, keep your mind clear, always hope for the best. Bad, if meant to happen, will happen anyway, and nothing can change it.