Cruises.co.uk reports today that norovirus has broken out aboard Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas cruise ship.
The website reports that passengers due to sail on June 12, 2010 have been informed to arrive late as embarkation will start to take place from 4:30pm. The cruise ship will apparently undergo what the cruise line calls an "enhanced sanitizing" on Saturday.
The Jewel of the Seas had widespread sickness (diarrhea and vomiting) last March, but the Center for Disease Control (CDC) could not determine the type of pathogen. You can read the CDC analysis here.
The CDC database for cruise ship norovirus outbreaks is here.
For prior blog articles about cruise ship norovirus, read them here.
Royal Caribbean's cruise ship, the Constellation, operated by its subsidiary Celebrity Cruises also sickened passengers and crew just two weeks ago. 164 passengers and 29 crewmembers developed a norovirus infection, according to Cruise.co.uk. You will not find this officially reported to the CDC because cruise ships are not required to report outbreaks of sicknesses when the cruise ship does not call on a U.S. port.
Royal Caribbean's PR crisis manager Cynthia Martinez issued a statement that the Constellation would be delayed so that the ship would undergo a "thorough cleaning and sanitizing."
This sounds good but what does this mean? As we mentioned in prior blogs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concludes that whereas "person to person" transmission of norovirus has been documented, "norwalk gastroenteritis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated water and foods."
So how does a cruise ship go about a "thorough cleaning" when the cruise lines has not determined whether the source of the norovirus is infected food or water? How do you perform an "enhanced sanitizing" of food or water?
Royal Caribbean's PR department refused to respond to a request for a statement or a comment on the latest sicknesses to Cruise Law News (CLN).
If you are disembarking from the Jewel of the Seas or the Constellation, please leave a note below and provide us with your thoughts on how the cruise line handled the outbreak.
June 12th Update:
Newspapers in Harwich are reporting that 398 passengers and 30 crew fell ill with norovirus while on board the Jewel of the Seas. A company PR release states that boarding today will be delayed until 3:00 p.m. for what the cruise line states is "extensive," "thorough" and "enhanced" sanitizing. But health officials have not identified the source of the norovirus as either contaminated food or water, unsanitary crew members, or infected passengers. So what will additional cleaning for 2 or 3 hours accomplish?
Passengers are beginning to leave interesting comments below, pointing out that the method of serving passengers is likely causing the norovirus to spread . . .
June 26, 2010 Update:
Royal Caribbean is violating U.K. law by sailing without completely sanitizing the contaminated cruise ship. Some very astute readers are leaving insightful comments below, regarding the potential causes of the virus and the cruise line's shortcommings. Be sure to read the comments at the bottom.
June 25, 2010 Update:
The norovirus continues: Jewel of the Seas Remains Contaminated with Norovirus
Photograph of cleaner telegraph.co.uk
Photograph Jewel of the Seas w:User:Dave souza at Wikipedia