This evening we received an email from a passenger on the Sun Princess cruise ship stating that the cruise ship is experiencing an outbreak of what is described as norovirus which is diminishing the cruise experience of the passengers.
The primary complaint seems to be that the cruise line allegedly knew about the noro outbreak but did not tell the passengers until after the ship sailed. Earlier, on December 26th, we previously posted comments about noro virus on the Sun Princess. Here's what we received this evening:
"The Sun Princess is again out in the South Pacific with about 2,000 "Guests," all of whom were boarded without advice that the ship was sailing at 'RED ALERT' levels for the NORO virus raging in the vessel. The company is clever at preserving their profits at the risk of passenger health in not advising passengers of the outbreaks until well out on the ocean.
Holiday pleasures diminished, no condiments on tables, no self-service buffers, constant urgings to use expensive bottled water, very expensive medical centre visits, confined to cabins etc. etc. etc This concealment of health risks is deeply concerning and must be addressed by the industry at large right now."
We have written hundreds of articles over the years about noro virus and how the cruise line handle (and don't handle) the outbreaks. The cruise lines always blame the passengers for not not washing their hands, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have concluded that the most common causative factor is contaminated food and water.
Irrespective of what side you are on in this debate, there are a couple of things that everyone should agree on.
First, there is not enough time during turn-around day for the cruise ships to be adequately cleaned. There is not even enough time to figure out from an epidemiology perspective where the virus came from. All of the spraying and wiping and fogging are pointless if the water or food are contaminated with the virus. But the cruise lines pressure the crew to madly try and super-clean the ship when it returns at the end of the cruise.
Secondly, if the cruise line knows that there is a viral outbreak, it should be required to tell the passengers before they embark on the ship. Passengers should not be forced to sail on sick ships.
I for one would hate to take my family into a cabin where just a few hours earlier a sick family was power-puking millions of microbes of noro pathogens everywhere.
Update: Statement by Princess Cruises. Princess provided a statement which reads in its entirety as follows:
"Sun Princess experienced an outbreak of AGE on the prior voyage, however the cause (now known to be Norovirus) was not confirmed until the next voyage began.
During both voyages, the ship increased sanitation procedures, announcements were made by the captain, and letters were distributed to all passengers advising of the situation onboard. We also received verification from New South Wales Health that they were happy with the ship's actions and response."
Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Lemeki Lenoa