Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas experiences gastrointestinal virus outbreak


The Centers for Disease Control is reporting Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas experienced an outbreak of gastrointestinal sickness that affected 114 passengers and 2 crew members.

Those affected by the sickness experience symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Legend of the Seas is currently on a two week cruise that started on March 30 and continues until April 14, 2015.

Cruise lines are required to report the total number of gastrointestinal cases, with online updates posted when they account for more than 3 percent of passengers and crew.  The outbreak on Legend of the Seas is affecting 6.53% of the passengers and 0.27% of the crew.

Royal Caribbean is undertaking direction from the CDC to inhibit the sickness and prevent further outbreaks, including increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures making announcements to notify onboard passengers and crew of the outbreak, encourage case reporting, and encourage good hand hygiene.

Once Legend of the Seas returns to San Diego, CA, Royal Caribbean will provide additional cleaning crew to complete a thorough public and accommodation super-sanitization cleaning and disinfection, plan staged disembarkation for active cases to limit the opportunity of illness transmission to well guests, and plan for sanitation of terminal and transport infection control procedures.

Norovirus outbreak forces Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas home early


Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas returned home to Baltimore today a day early after a number of passengers became sick on the cruise.

Royal Caribbean spokesperson Cynthia Martinez said 193 guests(9.91 percent) and nine crew members(1.15 percent) experienced the illness, thought to be norovirus.

"Those affected by the short-lived illness are responding well to over-the-counter medication administered on board the ship," Martinez said.

The ship will undergo a ship-wide cleaning and disinfection after the guests disembark.  The terminal will also be sanitized.

When the ship was in Falmouth, Jamaica, two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers boarded the ship along with two epidemiologists.  They collected samples for testing and evaluated the outbreak and response activities.

Royal Caribbean invests $2 million to prevent Norovirus outbreaks


Royal Caribbean is investing $2 million to help prevent Norovirus gastronomic illness from infecting their cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean has extended its contract with ByoPlanet International and added $2 million to fund the company's disinfectant technology that prevents Norovirus on ships.

Royal Caribbean bought 350 additional ByoPlanet sprayers to add to the existing 10-30 sprayers they have on each cruise ship.

The disinfectant works by spraying electrically charged disinfectants that wrap around surfaces to kill mold, odors, mildew, bedbugs, algae and parasites.

Royal Caribbean has been a partner of ByoPlanet since 2010.

About 100 cruise passengers sick on Royal Caribbean ship from Baltimore


Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas is dealing with a gastrointestinal sickness that has broken out on the ship for the second time in two weeks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting almost 100 passengers on the Grandeur of the Seas cruise that left Baltimore on April 5th.

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman commented, "Those affected by the short-lived illness have responded well to over-the-counter medication being administered onboard the ship."

A cruise that departed Baltimore March 28 on the same ship also had an outbreak of viral illness that the CDC said was caused by norovirus. During that cruise, more than 100 passengers became ill. Fewer than a dozen crew members were sickened. 

Grandeur of the Seas is expected to return to Baltimore as scheduled Saturday morning. 

Upon its return to Baltimore, the ship is expected to be thoroughly sanitized. In addition, "two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers and an epidemiologist will board the ship," as part of the ongoing investigation, according to disease control officials.

CDC confirms Norovirus source of Royal Caribbean cruise ship outbreak


The tests are in and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed that Norovirus was indeed the culprit in over 600 cruise passengers getting sick on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas last month.

The CDC says the particular strain of Norovirus was identified as the GII.4 Sydney strain, which is named after originating in Australia.

Furthermore, the CDC confirmed today that it is the most common norovirus of about 20 different types in the country right now.  In fact, it affects many more people on land than on cruise ships.

In fact, according to the CDC, over 21 million people are infected with Norovirus each year with less than 1 percent of out breaks occuring on cruise ships.

The GII.4 Sydney strain was identified in 2012 in Sydney, Australia.

Jan Vinje, the head virologist who tested the Royal Caribbean germ samples in the CDC’s lab, said Americans should not postpone cruises because of this new norovirus strain. “When we did the math last time, and looked at the total number of voyages annually, maybe less than half a percent had outbreaks. They are perfectly safe.”

How to avoid getting Norovirus on a cruise ship


Sadly with the outbreak of Norovirus on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, there's a lot of attention being put on this nasty little bug.  The good news is if you are going on a cruise, there are steps you can take to avoid getting infected too.

How do you get Norovirus?

It's important to understand how Norovirus is spread to be able to avoid getting it.  Norovirus is acute gastroenteritis, which generates symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain.  

Norovirus is spread from person to person through food or water that is contaminated with the virus as well as touching contaminated surfaces.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says Norovirus is commonly spread by contact with people who are infected by the virus.

How can you avoid getting Norovirus?

  • First and foremost, washing your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap prior to eating or drinking is the best defense.  
  • In addition, washing your hands after using the restroom is always a good idea.
  • If someone you know is sick, keep in mind they can spread the disease up to 3 days after they recover so avoid contact with them.
  • If an outbreak happens, also refrain from shaking hands.  
  • If any clothing is contaminated with vomit or stool, be sure to wash the clothing immediately to avoid the spread of the virus.

Norovirus requires you to get in physical contact with it.  It's not spread via the air and with good hygiene, you can stand a good chance of avoiding getting sick.

Royal Caribbean offering refund and future cruise credit for norovirus passengers


For its guests returning early on the Explorer of the Seas cruise that was struck by gastroenteritis, Royal Caribbean will give them compensation for not only the lost time but also the poor experience.

CNN reports that all passengers will get a 50% refund of their fare as well as a 50% future cruise credit.

Royal Caribbean is also giving passengers that were quarantined in their cabins due to the Norovirus-like symptoms an additional credit of one future cruise day for each day they were kept secluded.

On top of all this, Royal Caribbean is reimbursing any change fees imposed by the airlines to book travel home due to the early return.

More than 600 passengers reported feeling sick on the cruise, which has garnered headlines around the world.  Royal Caribbean made the decision to bring the ship back early to perform thorough sanitization of the ship.

Royal Caribbean chairman defends cruise line screening processes


Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain spoke to CNBC about the recent bout of sickness that spread to over 600 passengers onboard Explorer of the Seas that is believed to be Norovirus.  He defended the way Royal Caribbean looks for passengers who may be sick prior to cruising to prevent them from infecting others.

"We screen our passengers as best we can," Richard Fain told CNBC in an interview.

“It’s a very unfortunate inciden. Our people responded quickly and aggressively.”

Fain also noted the recent cold temperatures in the northeast may have played a part, with the cruise originating from Bayonne, New Jersey.

Future bookings wouldn't be affected, said Fain. "Most people understand just how common a thing this is," he said.

Fain stood on the company's record in response to incidents like these. “We do an amazing job of helping guests when they do get sick and then cleaning after," he said.

Royal Caribbean bringing Explorer of the Seas back two days early due to Norovirus


Royal Caribbean announced it will bring back Explorer of the Seas two days early due to an outbreak of astrointestinal illness that affected over 300 people onboard.  Royal Caribbean will take the extra time to santize the ship completely.

Explorer of the Seas will return on January 29 and perform a thorough “barrier” sanitization program on the entire ship to make certain that any remaining traces of the illness are eliminated. It will be the third aggressive sanitizing procedure the ship has undertaken since Royal Caribbean became aware of the issue, and will additionally provide a window of more than 24 hours where there are no persons aboard the ship.

Royal Caribbean made the decision after consulting with represenatives of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with their own medical team.

Royal Caribbean apologized to its guests for disappointing them and will take "several steps to compensate them for their inconvenience."

A medical team is currently working to determine if the illness that spread across Explorer of the Seas is indeed Norovirus.

Royal Caribbean also mentioned new reports of the illness by guesta have decreased day-over-day and others previously ailing are now feeling better. It appears that reported illnesses among guests and crew peaked during the first few days of the cruise

Another Royal Caribbean ship experiencing norovirus outbreak


The Centers for Diseas Control and Prevention is reporting that as of January 24, 2014, 281 of 3,050 passengers have reported symptoms that resemble norovirus.  In addition 22 of 1,165 crewmembers have reported symptoms.

Royal Caribbean is taking these actions to minimize the problem.

  • Increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan
  • Making announcements to both notify onboard passengers of the outbreak and encourage case reporting
  • Collecting stool specimens from ill passengers and crew for submission to the CDC lab
  • Making multiple daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the VSP
  • Preparing additional crew members to join the ship mid-voyage to assist with case management and intensified sanitation procedures
  • Consulting with CDC on plans for:
    • Passenger notification procedures and the planned delayed embarkation schedule in Bayonne, NJ on January 31, 2014,
    • Disembarkation plans for active cases, terminal and transport infection control procedures.

​As stated, the next Explorer of the Seas sailing on January 31, 2014 will be delayed for cleaning.

Unfortunately this is the second Royal Caribbean ship this month to suffer the effects of a norovirus outbreak, with Majesty of the Seas having one last week.

Norovirus causes symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.  It's spread from person to person, through contaminated food or water, and by touching contaminated surfaces.  It's important for every cruise passenger on every cruise ship to take steps to avoid getting norovirus.