Novovirus Strikes Three Cruise Ships

At least three cruise ships were hit with outbreaks of norovirus this past weekend. Two of the ships are operated by Princess Cruise Lines, and the third is operated by Royal Caribbean.

Two hundred out of 3,100 passengers reportedly became ill on the Royal Caribbean “Voyager of the Seas.” The ship’s departure from New Orleans was delayed by a few hours so that it could be disinfected.

Cruise ships are like densely-packed floating cities; some carry over 7,000 passengers and crew. Illness such as noroviruses (also known as Norwalk-like viruses (NLVs) and Caliciviruses) can spread quickly in such an environment.

Although norovirus is sometimes known as the “cruise ship virus,” it’s also common in hospitals and other settings where people live in close proximity to each other.

The illness often begins suddenly and usually only lasts a few days. Noroviruses are highly contagious and cause unpleasant symptoms but are usually not dangerous unless the patient has a compromised immune system or becomes seriously dehydrated.

Common symptoms of a norovirus include:

  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea, and
  • stomach cramping.

To prevent the spread of norovirus and other contagious illnesses on board cruise ships, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have a Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP). This program helps cruise ships prevent and control the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses on board cruise ships.

  • Ways to reduce the risk of contracting a norovirus during a cruise include:
  • Washing hands with soap and hot water, especially after using the restroom and before eating.
  • Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; often cruise line crew members offer “squirts” before meals.
  • Avoiding shaking hands during outbreaks of the illness.
  • Drinking only bottled water on board and during shore excursions and avoiding any drinks that contain ice.

Of course, a cruise line isn’t necessarily liable just because you got sick during a cruise. However, if you believe that a cruise ship crew’s negligence may have caused you to suffer from a norovirus or another illness, or if the ship’s crew failed to provide you with proper medical care during your cruise, contact the New Jersey Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C.