Friday, January 4, 2013


Gastric illnesses, often caused by food poisoning, are quite common on cruises. They spread quickly in these crowded, close quarters, and can totally ruin your vacation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tries to keep you as safe as possible. When cruise ships participating in the CDC operated Vessel Sanitation Program arrive in a U.S. port from a foreign port, they are required to report the total number of gastrointestinal (GI) illness cases that have been brought to the attention of the medical officer on board during that particular cruise. These will only be a small percentage of actual cases that have occurred on the cruise: lines are often long, passengers are afraid of additional costs, and, as a result, they frequently tough it out rather than report being ill.

If 3% or more passengers or crew have had symptoms of GI illness, the ship has to file a special report. Only sizeable cruise ships (with over 100 passengers) participate in this CDC program, but some are very large indeed, carrying 5,000 or more passengers. Therefore, even this low percentage will often mean hundreds of people on board have been ill.

So which cruise ships had such large outbreaks in 2012, and what was the cause? As you can see from the below chart, norovirus or "the cruise ship virus" is the most common cause of a miserable cruise. Princess Cruises has been heavily hit, with the same ship having outbreaks more than once in the case of Ruby Princess and Crown Princess. This is not unusual, particularly in the case of the very contagious norovirus outbreaks, since it is extremely difficult to 100% decontaminate the ship after an outbreak. Princess Cruises was also heavily hit with outbreaks the previous year (2011) with Sea Princess and Coral Princess each having two serious outbreaks. Of course, since it is a huge cruise ship line, it is also more likely to have such problems. But still, it is a good idea to check out your ship if you are planning to go on a cruise (see next post).


Cunard Line Queen Mary 2 12/22 - 01/03 - cause unknown
Princess Cruises Emerald Princess 12/17 - 12/27 - cause unknown
Prestige Cruise Oceania Riviera 11/15 - 11/29 - cause unknown
Holland America LineAmsterdam 11/11-12/5- caused by Norovirus
Princess Cruises Ruby Princess 10/09-10/28- caused by Norovirus & E. coli
Princess Cruises Dawn Princess 08/21-09/13 -caused by Norovirus
Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas 08/24-08/31- caused by Norovirus
Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Glory 08/06-08/11-caused by Norovirus
Princess Cruises Sun Princess 07/08-07/21-caused by Norovirus
Princess Cruises Ruby Princess 02/26-03/04-caused by Norovirus
Princess Cruises Crown Princess 02/04-02/09 -caused by Norovirus
Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Silhouette 01/29-02/10- caused by Norovirus
Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Constellation 01/28-02/11-caused by Norovirus
Princess Cruises Crown Princess 01/28-02/04 -caused by Norovirus
P & O Cruises Aurora 01/04-01/26 - caused by Norovirus
Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas 01/28-02/04 - caused by Norovirus

To your good health,


1 comment:

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