Cruise Ship Norovirus

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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.

Norovirus cruise ships 2015 news & reports

In the following table you can see all current (2015) Norovirus outbreaks on ships as statistics. The listed data shows number of sick passengers and crew (with the respective percentage to all), along with the CDC report page (via outgoing links).

Lines / Ships Sail Dates / Itinerary Sick Passengers / All Passengers (%) Ill Crew-Staff / All Crew-Staff (%)
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 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 cruise 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 cruise from Fort Lauderdale 95 / 2896 (3,3%) 7 / 1209 (0,6%)
CDC report

Cruise ship virus outbreaks 2014 reports

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 January, 10day Caribbean cruise from Cape Liberty (Bayonne) NJ 577 / 3050 (18,9%) 49 / 1165 (4,2%) CDC report
Majesty of the Seas 20-24 January, 4day Caribbean cruise from Miami 66 pax 2 crew (no CDC report)
Norwegian Star 5-19 January, 7day Mexican Riviera cruise from LA 130 / 2318 (5,61%) 12 / 1039 (1,15%) CDC report

Cruise ship virus outbreaks 2013 reports

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

[affected: passengers 3461, crew 286]

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 (1,293%)

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 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.

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.