After over four decades of representing passengers onboard major cruise lines and smaller vessels, the cruise attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have seen their fair share of Norovirus outbreaks. Most recently, on a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship.
According to an unofficial Royal Caribbean blog website, written by supporters of the cruise line, over 100 passengers onboard the Voyager of the Seas have become sick with Norovirus during an 18-day cruise of Australia and New Zealand. Crewmembers are trying to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible as it prepares to dock at the Port of Tauranga next week.
The Voyager of the Seas is scheduled to arrive at the Tauranga Harbour on November 29, which will make it the largest cruise vessel to dock at the port. However, passengers might not get to enjoy the port if the outbreak is not cleared. Voyager of the Seas skipper Captain Charles Teige has declined to comment on the situation onboard the vessel, but he did remark that Norovirus outbreaks onboard cruise ships are usually the result of passengers failing to report sicknesses.
Norovirus, also known as the stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis, causes severe dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea for those who become stricken with it. It is highly contagious and transmitted via infected food and beverages. There is no specific treatment for the illness and while symptoms only last two or three days, since cruise ships transport several thousand people at once, the virus can spread very quickly and can result in complications for those who do not remain hydrated.
Royal Caribbean International has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the transmission of these types of viruses but sometimes outbreaks are inevitable. Over 3,000 passengers that disembarked from the Voyager of the Seas Friday morning in Sydney were given letters explaining the disease prevention method as well as the fact that several passengers had experienced gastrointestinal illness during the itinerary. The guests were asked to report if they had experienced symptoms connected to the Norovirus.
Crewmembers have been working diligently to minimize the effects of the outbreak. Workers from various areas of the vessel were asked to help in the dining areas and with delivering food to individual cabins. As part of the disease control effort, guests were not allowed to serve themselves from public buffets and were handed utensils wrapped in table napkins. Hand sanitizers were also provided across the ship.
According to other blog sites, the Voyager of the Seas experienced Norovirus outbreaks in late October and early November as well during a cruise from Singapore to Fremantle. Guests are asked to wash their hands as often as possible in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
For more information on Norovirus outbreaks and other incidents onboard cruise ships, visit our Lipcon cruise law blog today.