Two cruise ships operated by Princess Cruises are sailing into South Florida have well over 200 passengers experiencing norovirus like symptoms - nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
The Crown Princess arrived in Port Everglades today with 140 ill passengers and an additional 18 sick crewmembers.
Tomorrow, the Ruby Princess will arrive at port in Fort Lauderdale with 90 infected passengers and 13 sick crewmembers.
The "official" reported cases are usually far less than the actual number of cases, we have found.
PR people for Princess, as usual, are talking about subjecting the cruise ships to "enhanced cleaning" of "high-touch surfaces like railings, door handles and elevator buttons" and "encouraging passengers to use correct hand washing procedures and enhancing this with the use of hand sanitizing gels placed throughout the ship."
At this point, there is no indication whether ill passengers boarded the cruise ships and sickened others, or whether ill crew handling food sickened the passengers, or whether the food or water sickened the passengers and crew.
The other month I was interviewed in a travel publication and discussed the problem of norovirus on cruise ships in an article entitled "When Bugs Swim." Cruise lines Ike Princess always blame the passengers and suggest that they need to wash their hands more or use hand sanitizers which are not effective at combating norovirus.
Cruise lines never admit that their own crew, or the the cruise food or water, may be the culprits. Many attempts at cleaning by the crew actually make the problem worse, particularly when the source of the virus is the cruise line's food and water and then the vomitted norovirus is spread by rags which the crew rub all over the ship.
This is the fourth sickness outbreak reported on a cruise ship this year, according tp the CDC.
If you were on these cruises, please leave a comment below and let us know how the cruise line handled these two outbreaks.
February 5 2012 Update:
CNN reports that the number affected on these two cruise ships is around 500.
Meanwhie, in New Orleans:
Photo Credit: CBS-12