Norovirus Outbreak on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas?

A number of people have contacted us, including one passenger "Nancy" from Australia, complaining about a recent, major norovirus outbreak on the Voyager of the Seas.  She writes:

"The Voyager of Seas has relocated to Asia Pacific region husband and I sailed on the relocation cruise from Singapore 22nd Oct 2012 to Fremantle Australia. There was Norovirus outbreak around 800 passengers affected undetermined number with chest infection, one Norovirus victim airlifted . . . The ships doctor was swamped with sick passengers couldn't cope turned people away untreated. Cabins were sanitized once during the 14 night cruise and measures taken to fight the infection cabins sanitized as we left the ship ,very hard to fight when there are 3000+ people in one place." 

Voyager of the Seas Cruise Ship Norovirus Outbreak Nancy also commented on the absence of any mention of the disease outbreak: "The outbreak didn't rate a mention on TV or news papers ($$ damaging to tourist trade)." (The image of the Voyager of the Seas to the left was from an earlier norovirus outbreak when the ship was sailing out of New Orleans in February). 

Another person commented:  "My Mother just went on the Singapore to Perth cruise & many people were quarantined . My Mother got sick the last few days of cruise & is still recovering, vomiting diarrhea etc. . . Virus of the Sea Ship . . ."    

Passenger Nancy appeared sympathetic to the cruise line and thought the outbreak may have been due to the failure of the passengers to wash their hands.

Like most outbreaks, it does not appear that any effort will be made to establish the real cause of the outbreak (i.e., a sick passenger brought the virus aboard, or food and water were contaminated, or a sick crew member spread the virus).

The last norovirus reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) involving the Voyager of the Seas was earlier this year on a January 28 to February 4, 2012 sailing

Royal Caribbean and sister cruise line Celebrity have experienced recent problems with norovirus outbreaks - the Celebrity Constellation sailing out of Southampton reportedly had 350 passengers stricken with norovirus last week, and the Rhapsody of the Seas was quarantined last month while in port in Fiji due to the port's concern that sick cruise passengers may infect the local community.  The U.S. media typically does not mention these type of outbreaks. 

Neither of these latest outbreaks were reported to the CDC because the ships did not call on a U.S. port. 

Can anyone else on the cruise verify the outbreak and comment on how the cruise line handled it?  

Please leave a comment below or follow the discussion on our facebook page about the outbreak.

November 23, 2012 Update: Norovirus Continues to Sicken Cruise Passenger on Latest Cruise

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Comments (6) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Kim - November 11, 2012 10:46 PM

I was on this particular cruise and can say that the lady who was airlifted had suffered a broken leg due to a fall near the pool area. Reports of 800 affected by the virus is a huge overestimate. We did get a flu but how is that the fault of the crew of cruise line? The cleanliness was exceptional. Chinese whispers much????

SjB - November 12, 2012 12:34 AM

My wife and I travelled with our 16 month old son on this very cruise. We were both put in isolation for a couple of days after each suffering from Norovirus. My wife was put on an IV drip, and I had to get an injection for the nausea.

Yes, the lady who was airlifted (I'm presuming to Exmouth) was as a result of a trip and fall, correct. In fact the captain kept updating us every 10 minutes over the room speaker while we were trying to get our little one to bed (fat chance).

Our room had an awful stench to it and we asked both guest relations and maintenance to have a look, but they said there was nothing they could do. It smelt like a rotten animal and made us all feel pretty sick.

I also contracted a chest infection from the trip, and I was put on antibiotics when I got back here to Perth. I'm still suffering it a week after I got back. My wife and son have it too.

Cleanliness might have been exceptional but I'd expect so as they were walking up and down the corridors at night spraying god-knows-what on the carpet. Speaking of carpet, we couldn't get our room vacuumed the whole time as it would transmit the norovirus.

We've vowed never, ever to take a cruise (especially from Royal Caribbean) again. Give me a hotel and dry land any day!

Nancy - November 12, 2012 7:07 AM

No Chinese Whisper!! Do you work for travel industry ?? or where one of the many travel agents who boarded the ship in Port Headland ?? the only Chinese I saw was my cabin boy Chen who kept our cabin immaculate .. I won't name the crew member who told me that 12% of passengers were affected with Norovirus and the number with chest infection was undetermined even 12% is lot of sick people .. The day of embarkation in Studio B it was obvious people were sick I used my handkerchief as mask people coughing all around me .
No it's not the fault of the ships company that people were sick and I've never said it was .
But I can assure you that besides myself I personally know 7 people affected on the cruise two with combination of chest infection rest with Norovirus . Two hospitalised in Fremantle .

John - November 18, 2012 9:19 PM

So much for their efforts to sanitise the ship before it left Fremantle. My mother boarded there bound for the east coast and New Zealand. Was healthy for a couple of days and has been very ill for the last 11 days with both the Norovirus and a chest infection. Seeing more of the hospital on board than the sights - and she's not the only one.

The cruise industry needs to take this health issue more seriously. Wiping a few handrails and lift buttons with disinfectant before loading another 3000 potential victims on board is futile if the source of the infection is not identified.

Julie Hellewell - November 19, 2012 4:54 AM

I am very concerned reading this as it is Nov 19th and my parents are boarding this cruise ship for 14 days to NZ.. a present I have saved for for their 45th wedding anniversary. How will I know whether I am sending them off on a healthy virus free ship and how can I protect them ?!

Steve - November 23, 2012 7:12 AM

My wife and I have just returned from 18 nights on Voyager of the Seas departing from Fremantle Nov 5th as both a 60th birthday celebration and to recuperate after recent surgery. We met passengers coming off the ship who said that they and many passengers had been sick with Norovirus. We were allowed to board about an hour after scheduled timing, but not able to go to our cabins for another three hours. The cabin stewards later admitted that they were sanitising the cabins but there was no offical comment at that stage. During the cruise staff sprayed door handles and hand rails regularly. For the first four or five days they served the meals in the buffet and then for the last two days as they were obviously losing the battle with the virus invasion. Despite the constant reminders to wash our hands lots of people got sick. Reportedly 150 cabins were quarantined but there was never any official declaration that there was a real issue. At one stage my wife and I had to help an elderly gentleman who was obviously suffering from the virus find his way back to the sick bay - having been sent back to his cabin the day before and who at the time was disoriented and lost, at the wrong end of the ship to where the only lift which accessed the medical centre was. My wife suffered from eye irritation for the whole trip, which flared after each spraying session and we believe it was linked to whatever it was they were using. We survived the trip despite this and the many incidences we saw of poor food handling and personal hygiene practices of both crew members and passengers. In hindsight if we had been made fully aware through official channels that there was an outbreak on the ship, we would have probably gone home as the last thing I needed was to catch a bout of Norovirus. There needs to be a lot more honesty and openness in this industry, as too many people are vulnerable and gullible when it comes to trusting these big cruise companies who profess to have our best interests at heart. Never again RCCL!

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