CDC confirms gastrointestinal illness aboard Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 3% of the guests and 1% of the crew aboard Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas have reported being ill during the February 21 - March 4, 2016 voyage.

The CDC report shows 125 guests and 16 crew members reported symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

In response to the outbreak, Royal Caribbean and the crew aboard the ship reported the following actions:

  • Increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan,
  • Collecting stool specimens from passenger and crew gastrointestinal illness cases for testing,
  • Making daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the VSP,
  • Sending 4 Hotel and Housekeeping Operations Managers, 3 Public Health staff, one nurse from the cruise line corporate office to oversee and assist with implementation of the sanitation and outbreak response procedures,
  • Sending 10 additional internal cleaning crew and 10 contract cleaning staff and equipment to the ship to assist in the execution of the ship’s outbreak response,
  • Consulting with CDC on plans for their comprehensive sanitation procedures in Bayonne, NJ, including:
    • planning staged disembarkation for active cases to limit the opportunity of illness transmission to well guests, and
    • planning for sanitation of terminal and transport infection control procedures.

Two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers and an epidemiologist will board the ship in Bayonne, NJ on March 2, 2016 to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities. Specimens have been collected and will be sent to CDC for testing.

Anthem of the Seas voyage was cut short, but Royal Caribbean reports the reasoning was not the illness, but a forecasted storm in the path of the ship.

Gastrointestinal virus hits Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas


Australian health authorities are reporting about 182 passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas have been sickened with a gastrointestinal virus during a recent cruise.

Royal Caribbean notified the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District of the virus.

No patients required treatment at a hospital, although paramedics were on hand when Explorer of the Seas docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at The Rocks just before 6am on Wednesday.

A representaive from the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District indicated the ship would undergo extra cleaning to control the outbreak prior to new passengers being able to board.

Explorer of the Seas recently arrived in Australia to begin her cruising season just last month.

Explorer of the Seas last experienced a Norovirus outbreak in January 2014.

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.