Norovirus Strikes Emerald Princess Passengers on Christmas Eve - Princess Suffers More Than 50% of U.S. Norovirus Cases This Year

Miami's WSVM Channel 7 television station is bringing us some bad news this Christmas Eve, reporting that passengers aboard a Princess Cruises cruise ship sailing on the high seas are ill with the dreaded norovirus.

According to News Station 7, more than 150 passengers and crew members reportedly caught the norovirus aboard the Emerald Princess.

This is the second Princess cruise ship in a week to report cases of the contagious virus.  The Crown Princess sailed to Galveston with over 100 cruise passengers and crew members ill with norovirus. You can read several comments by passengers criticizing the food serving and hygiene on Emerald Princess Cruise Shipthe cruise ship  

The news station states that crews will sanitize the ship once it docks at Port Everglades on Thursday, whatever that means.

The sick passengers and crew were reportedly confined to their cabins to prevent a further spread of the disease on the 10-day cruise.

As far as cruise ships calling on U.S. ports, Princess Cruises has by far the most gastrointestinal illness outbreaks - with all of the cases involving norovirus.  According to the data collected by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), of the total number of 15 outbreaks, this is the ninth sailing with an illness outbreak on Princess cruise ships this year alone:

The Crown Princess suffered two outbreaks in January and February; the Ruby Princess in February; the Sun Princess in July; the Dawn Princess in August and September; the Ruby Princess again in October; the Crown Princess again in December; and now the Emerald Princess.  

As year 2012 ends, Princess has experienced more than 50% of the CDC documented gastrointestinal cases. Considering there are 26 cruise lines associated with the Cruise Line International Association, one cruise line having more than 50% of the sicknesses is quite a feat!

Princess' standard operating procedure is to always blame the passengers for bringing the virus aboard.  Let's wait and hear what Princess says this time. Who wants to make a bet that the cruise line PR representatives point the finger at the poor people spending Christmas Eve puking in their staterooms?

Anyone sailing on the Emerald Princess have comments about the latest norovirus outbreak?  

December 26, 2012 Update: The Global Dispatch states:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program team will be boarding Princess Cruises’ “Emerald Princess” as it arrives in Ft. Lauderdale Dec. 27 to investigate an outbreak of yet unknown etiology, which has sickened nearly 200 passengers and crew.

According to health officials, a total of 166 passengers and 30 crew were sickened with the symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting, resembling norovirus. The voyage dates for the cruise were from Dec. 17 to Dec. 27.

The CDC said the cruise ship took the following actions in response to the outbreak to include cleaning and sanitizing, making announcements to notify passengers and crew and to encourage hand hashing, collecting stool samples for laboratory analysis and reporting twice daily to CDC officials.

This outbreak follows a norovirus outbreak reported aboard a “Crown Princess” cruise destined for Galveston, TX. More than 100 passengers and crew were sickened in this outbreak, according to a Chron.com report earlier this week.

Norovirus is a highly contagious illness caused by infection with a virus of the same name. It is often called by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.

The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.

Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food andwater, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Holger.Ellgaard)

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Comments (7) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Susan Hayes - December 29, 2012 7:33 AM

I still am amazed that the Carnival is carrying on this ridiculous defense and reporting of the situation. I was there and listened to the stories, You couldn't turn around but what you met someone who was ill or had a spouse or knew someone who was ill on the Emerald. The medical department couldn't keep up. They had a special team to clean the rooms each day and I had to phone them to get them to come. I realized they were more busy during the day and the shift changed at 8AM, so I would call them at 7AM. They were not allowing us to touch anything from 22 December when the cruise started on the 17th. They told us spouses or unaffected people in same rooms with affected that we were not to go to the buffet but eat only in the dining rooms which doesn't make any sense, because we were served everything we got there also. The nurse (one) tried to keep up with updating the files on each affected person, but if you called, it was hours before she could get back to you, sometimes almost a whole day. Special meals menus were sent, but they couldn't deliver till and hour or two after the designated time or not at all, only during designated hours. The paramedic who treated my husband in the early morning of the 22nd, said he had seen 14 people in the hour before he came to us. Does that sound like only 166 passengers were affected? We were required to fill out a form for the CDC. When I took it to the Medical Dept they couldn't open it fast enough. They enlisted additional people to answer the 911 medical emergency and they weren't always polite!! On the day before the end of the cruise when they were supposed to release us if we had no symptoms for 48 hours, who is going to tell the truth?, I finally went to the front desk and told them we were not staying in the cabin any longer and were going to sit on deck. The message didn't get through and the nurse was trying to reach us, then phoned us near dinner time to tell us my husband could be released if he had no further symptoms. They NEVER physically checked after the first visit, didn't have enough staff to deal with it. Yes, we believe it is not the passenger's fault and that it is dirty housekeeping. My husband has a sensitive stomach in the first place and is 85 years old. I did not get sick, but I actively work to prevent this every day. I am 77 and have been accepting responsibility for my own health for over 20 years. I learned the hard way, but most people would like to just whine and complain and blame someone else. I am over it and don't plan to go on any Carnival ship in the near future.

Mark Hagenbrok - December 29, 2012 6:48 PM

I am one of those onboard the Emerald Princess who spent Christmas Eve puking in my stateroom. Everything the previous commenter said is true. It took hours to get a response from the medical staff and longer to get medication. The numbers are understated as many who were sick did not report it. The staff was overwhelmed. Of particular note was the fact that hand sanitizers were not put out until AFTER the outbreak, and even then were NOT common.

glen bennett - December 30, 2012 11:44 AM

We're due to travel on the Emerald Princess on 6th Jan
The story has been in the public domain for a little while now,and yet when I phoned the UK call center they said "they had no information" "were not authorised to comment" etc etc. I'm amazed that Princess can still roll out little happy clappy tweets,about "Skywalkers" and lounges but nothing is being said about the Norovirus and how it has/will impact on future sailings. They've been off twitter for two days now-You'd think if ever there was a place to post info that would be it!I found out more by looking at the ships web cam,which shows the vessel is docked in Antigua,so I assume that they turned the boat round and sent it back out,this was despite the official cause of the illness not having been confirmed.Their PR office needs a shake up !!!!

Nicholas Herlick - January 1, 2013 9:22 PM

We are scheduled for Emerald's Eastern Carribean Cruise starting March 7. Glad we got the insurance! If they have one more outbreak between now and then we're going to cancel.

david klip - January 4, 2013 11:53 AM

Our entire family were on thar particular voyage from dec 17 to the 27. We were a group of 5 cabind, 16 persons total. A 18 year old baby got sick with the norovirus, as well as another 4 persons of our family. Can you believe that after all this anouncements where done, requesting to report imediately to medical service if you presented symptoms, they charged my brother in law US$130 for the Doctors consultation for the 18 months old baby !!!! That is outrageous!!!!!

James Duley - January 7, 2013 8:36 AM

I was confined to my cabin from 22 to 27 December due to contracting norovirus and it ruined our holiday to celebrate my wife's birthday. We observed staff in the dining room and buffet restaurant sneezing and so spreading germs but not then washing their hands.Is it any wonder Princess has 50% of all virus outbreaks? Their objective seems to be to deny responsibility and avoid any financial impact for ruined holidays. Have they never heard of goodwill!!!
The final indignity was to be stopped at the gangway and escorted to a separate exit to be ushered off the ship even though I was symptom free and had been cleared by the medical staff but after making sure that my shipboard account had been paid!!

Marsha Rothenberg - January 9, 2013 6:12 PM

Our family of 7 sailed on the Caribbean Princess from12/29/12 - 1/5/13. Five out of seven family members on our cruise contracted the norovirus. We know other passengers were sick because twice we saw cleaning crews in white suits and masks cleaning vomit in the dining rooms. Also another passenger on the ship told us she did not report that she had the 24 hour stomach bug while on our cruise. I wonder how many others got infected while on our cruise.

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