Consumer Reports: Don't Get Sick on a Cruise

Cruise Ship Medical FacilitiesA news station in California KFSN (ABC) channel 30 reports that being ill with norovirus or in a medical emergency presents challenges when you are "days from the nearest port, on a ship without diagnostic equipment like an MRI machine, a blood bank or even specialty doctors."

According to a Consumer affairs medical doctor, although many passengers may believe that they are boarding a "floating hospital," a cruise ship is more like a "floating hotel with a doctor at hand."  

She says "think twice about traveling with a chronic medical condition.

The Coast Guard can't always launch a rescue, if the seas are rough or the ship is too far from land. Next, know that most prescription drugs are not available on a cruise ship. Always travel with an extra supply of all medications."

The Consumer Affairs medical team also warns that medical care aboard a cruise ship costs a premium.

Cruise ships don't accept medical insurance so consider purchasing travel insurance from an independent company. .

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Norwegian Gem

NCL Medevac Cruise Ship The Coast Guard issued a statement today that it rescued a man in medical distress from the Norwegian Gem cruise ship. 

The Coast Guard stated that the NCL cruise ship called for assistance when the ship was sailing around 80 miles off the coast of Nags Head, North Carolina. The Coast Guard received the distress signal at approximately 2:30 PM.  It sent a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and an HC-130 Hercules from Elizabeth City, North Carolina. 

As you can see in the video, it looks like the crew had a little difficulty getting the passenger into the helicopter.

The helicopter crew hoisted the man onto the helicopter round 5 PM and flew him back to land where he was transported by ambulance to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City. 

Photo Credit: WCTI 12

March 28 2014 UpdateNorwegian Gem Medevac Involved Honeymoon Couple (VIDEO)

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger From Carnival Paradise

Carnival Paradise MedevacThe U.S. Coast Guard reports that it medevaced a 66-year-old passenger from a Carnival cruise ship yesterday when the ship was approximately 180 miles southwest of Marco Island, Florida. 

The Carnival Paradise contacted the Coast Guard around 2:00 PM yesterday regarding a male passenger who was suffering from an undisclosed medical illness while the cruise ship was sailing to Tampa.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was dispatched from the Coast Guard's station in Clearwater.

FOX News reports that when the Coast Guard helicopter crew arrived at the cruise ship, the aircrew lowered their rescue swimmer, hoisted the ill cruise passenger and transported him to Tampa General Hospital for medical care. 

Photo Credit: FOX 4

 

 

Blame Game: Princess Accuses Passengers of Starting Norovirus Outbreak on Caribbean Princess

Last night the Caribbean Princess cruise ship returned early to Houston, Texas with passengers and crew members suffering from a gastrointestinal illness (GI) outbreak. There are around 173 people officially reported to be ill on the ship, mostly passengers. A Houston news station says the outbreak was caused by norovirus.

Determining the type of GI outbreak and the origin of the outbreak is a deliberate, scientific process that is the work of trained and experienced expert epidemiologists.  

The experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not yet determined either the type or the origin of the virus.  The outbreak could be attributed to contaminated food, or contaminated water, or galley or food handlers working while ill, or the ship failing to clean up after the last cruise when passengers became ill, or new passengers with the virus who were not properly Caribbean Princessscreened. But whatever the potential cause and origin, it's important to determine what the CDC says about the outbreak.

Princess Cruises, however, has already blamed its guests.  Princess PR spokeswoman Julie Benson tells CBS News that "the pattern suggests the illness was brought on board by passengers." Ms. Benson is not an epidemiologist of course. She has no medical or scientific education or training. Princess Cruises didn't fly a team of epidemiologists into the Gulf of Mexico and lower them down from a helicopter to the cruise ship to conduct tests and make a analysis.

Ms. Benson's comments, in my assessment, are a PR stunt. This is right out of the cruise industry's playbook of how to manage a crisis when a cruise ship sickness epidemic breaks out. Rule number 1: Blame the Passengers!

Cruise lines like Princess don't want the public to think that their cruise ships or crew members are the problem. To divert attention from the possibility of bad food or contaminated water or sick crew members, the cruise lines point the finger at their customers and accuse them of bring the virus aboard or having poor hygiene.

But could it be bad hygiene of the crew? The CDC has found crew working while ill before. That's why the public has to rely on the education and experience of the experts and not PR cruise line people.

Yesterday we wrote that there were passengers sickened during the last cruise. Did the ship clean up the contaminated surfaces and test the food and water after the last puke fest? How many people were sick last week?  Perhaps Princess will tell us? Perhaps not. 

I have mentioned before that cruise lines often don't want the CDC to make any conclusions about the cause or origin of widespread viral outbreaks. Why? So the PR people can spin the story for marketing purposes.

Princess would rather protect their own reputation and blame the sick passengers than wait for the CDC to finish its investigation. 

 

Photo BCredit: Mayra Beltran/Houston Chronicle

Norovirus Outbreak on Caribbean Princess Cruise Ship

Diamond Princess NorovirusThis morning I received an email from a reader of Cruise Law News who said that the Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship will be arriving in Houston tomorrow night 36 hours or so early due to a norovirus outbreak. 

This evening the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the Caribbean Princess has suffered an outbreak affecting the following people infected during its current January 25th - February 1st cruise:

  • 162 of 3102 passengers (5.22%); and
  • 11 of 1148 crew members (0.96%)

The CDC has not yet announced the type of pathogens involved in this latest cruise ship infection.

A Houston newspaper said the virus was norovirus.

The newspaper also said that Princess Cruises issued a statement today saying "that the trip was cut short by one day because of thick fog expected over the weekend."

Yeah, right.

Princess Cruises was recently featured in Time Magazine's Top 13 Worst cruise Ship Norovirus Outbreaks.  

Princess Cruises had five of the worst outbreaks: Crown Princess (January 2010) - 396; Crown Princess (February 2012) - 363; Ruby Princess (March 2013) - 276; Coral Princess (February 2009) - 271; and Sun Princess (July 2012) - 216.

The last gastrointestinal illness outbreak on a Princess cruise ship involved the Diamond Princess just two weeks ago.

How is Princess handing this latest outbreak? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

January 30, 2014 Update:  Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein received information from cruise passengers indicating that there were problems with norovirus on the prior cruise:

"From a reader: Passengers have been notified that during the current cruise there has been an increase in the number of cases of gastrointestinal illness amongst passengers caused by Norovirus. In response, we have arranged for the ship to undergo a prolonged and additional disinfection in Houston on Saturday, January 11, 2014. As a consequence, cruise check-in and embarkation will be delayed until 2:00 pm.

This was also noted by a passenger who just disembarked the ship who said, "Cabins on both sides of us had to be sanitized due the passengers being sick."

January 31, 2014 Update: "Blame Game: Princess Accuses Passengers of Starting Norovirus Outbreak on Caribbean Princess."  "Not our fault" says the PR people at Princess Cruises. How about letting the experts conclude their investigation first?

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

A Royal Mess: Sick Count Increases to Over 600, Cruise Ends Early

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that over 600 people have been sickened by the gastrointestinal illness outbreak on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas, CNN reports.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship left Cape Liberty, New Jersey on January 21, 2014 for a 10 day cruise through the Caribbean. The ship missed a stop at its private stop in Labadee Haiti after the outbreak. It sailed to San Juan to be cleaned. 

The CDC initially stated that over 300 people (281 passengers and 22 crew members) were ill. (Its official report is here with the new statistics). However, over the weekend we began to hear reports from passengers that the number Royal Caribbean Cruise Explorer of the Seas Norovirusof people suffering from nausea and diarrhea had increased to to over 450 and, now, to over 600. 

CNN quotes a spokeswoman with the CDC that more than 600 people on the ship have become ill, reporting vomiting and diarrhea. The CDC spokeswoman said 564 passengers and 47 crew members reported being ill.

Royal Caribbean is ending the cruise two days early. The cruise line will "use the extra time to sanitize the ship even more thoroughly." 

We have been contacted by guests on this ill fated cruise as well passengers from the prior cruise who became ill. 

Passengers who contacted Royal Caribbean say that the cruise line is not considering refunds of any type.

We previously reported on the incident in our article: Puke Fest Aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas.

There has been no official word from the CDC whether this is in fact norovirus, although the symptoms are consistent with the virus. The cruise lines invariably blame the passengers, but the CDC has never in my experience ever pin-pointed the exact source of an outbreak like this.

NBC News raises the issue whether the outbreak on the Explorer is linked to a nasty new type of norovirus known as the GII 4 Sydney strain which caused an outbreak on the Queen Mary 2.

Join our discussion on Facebook about why norovirus outbreaks occur on cruise ships

 

Puke Fest Aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that there is an outbreak of gastrointestinal sickness of a large percentage of cruise passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas cruise ship.

The CDC indicates that 281 passengers (9.21% of total passengers) are suffering from norovirus type of symptoms. The symptoms include vomiting, nausea, headaches and diarehhea. You can read the report here

The pro-cruise site Cruise Critic calls the problem a "small outbreak" but the truth is that 9% is a high percentage.  It is not unusual for passengers not to report the illness in order to avoid being Explorer of the Seasquarantined in the cabin or for crew members who rely on tips to keep working after they are ill. The total numbers are often under-reported.

In addition to sick passengers, 22 crew members are reportedly ill according to the CDC. 

The CDC website states that an environmental health officer and an epidemiologist will board the ship in St. Thomas, USVI on January 26, 2014 to conduct an epidemiologic investigation. 

It may be possible to determine whether the outbreak is in fact related to norovirus. But the CDC will not have any success is determining why and how the virus came aboard. There is not enough time for the CDC to conduct an exhaustive scientific analysis and, as usual, the ship will not sit idle waiting for the test results. The cruise ship will continue to sail whether the CDC determines if it is norovirus or exactly why it is on the ship. 

Earlier this week, cruise expert Professor Ross Klein indicated that the CDC reported 130 passengers and 12 crew members became ill with gastrointestinal illness while cruising aboard the NCL Norwegian Star

The Majesty of the Seas returned to Miami a week ago with 70 people reported ill with gastrointestinal illnesses.

Were the outbreaks on the Royal Caribbean and NCL ships caused by the passengers not washing their hands? That's always what the cruise lines say.

Or was it due to crew members who kept working after they became sick and causing the outbreak? Or was it contaminated food or water, which is a common cause?

We will never know. The cause of gastrointestinal outbreaks is usually a mystery on cruise ships.

 

Have a comment? Please leave a message below or join the discussion on our Facebook page - what's the most common cause of norovirus on cruise ships?  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Emma Jones

Norovirus on Diamond Princess: How is Princess Cruises Handling the Outbreak?

Diamond Princess NorovirusA newspaper in New Zealand is reporting that 60 cruise passengers aboard a Princess cruise ship which sailed from Australia have been infected with the dreaded norovirus. They have been suffering from vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. 

The newspaper is stating that cleaners are working to sanitize the Diamond Princess before the next group of passengers board. 

Check-in has been delayed as the extra cleaning has been taking place. 

One passenger expressed serious reservations about the upcoming cruise. The thousands-of-dollars cruise vacation can't be cancelled because there was no chance of a refund, he said.

The newspaper correctly points out that norovirus can be transmitted through infected food or water, person-to-person contact, and surface contact.

If you were on the cruise, is the estimate of 60 ill passengers accurate?

What, exactly, is Princess saying about refunds?

How did the cruise line handle the outbreak?

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Barrylb

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Woman from Grandeur of the Seas

According to the Defense Video & Imagery Service, the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 56-year-passenger today from a cruise ship. 

The Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas notified the Coast Guard at approximately 10 PM last night that the woman was is medical distress. The cruise ship was approximately 300 miles east of Orlando, Florida. At approximately 3:30 AM this morning, a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft and an MH-60 Jayhawk took off by Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

The helicopter arrived at the cruise ship at 6:20 AM. and transported the woman to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.  

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Norwegian Breakaway

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 81 year old man from a Norwegian Cruise Line ship off the coast off Cape Hatteras early this morning. 

The Norwegian Breakaway contacted the Coast Guard around 4 a.m. this morning to report that a passenger was suffering a heart-attack.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew responded to the ship, 55 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, and flew the passenger to Sentara Norfolk General hospital.  

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger From Carnival Splendor

A news station in Norfolk Virginia reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an ill passengers from a Carnival cruise ship near Norfolk to a local hospital today. 

The news station states that this morning at around 10:45 A.M., the Carnival Splendor cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard regarding a 57-year-old woman who required medical assistance.

Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. dispatched a helicopter crew to respond to the medical emergency.

The Coast Guard helicopter flew to the cruise ship, which was about 80 miles east of Norfolk, at around 12:30 P.M. The Coast Guard crew then hoisted the woman into the helicopter and flew her to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from HAL's Westerdam

A CBS station in San Diego is reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 75-year-old man who suffered a heart attack while aboard a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship. 

The Coast Guard received notification late last night that that a HAL passenger was experiencing a medical emergency aboard the Westerdam cruise ship. at the time, the cruise ship was 15 miles off of Mission Bay, California. 

The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from San Diego and the patient and the ship's nurse were hoisted and taken to the hospital.

You can see the medevac operation in the video below courtesy of Coast Guard News.

 

G.I. Blues: Over 300 Sick on the Celebrity Summit

Celebrity Summit Cruise ShipCruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that 307 of 2112 passengers (14.5%) and 14 of 952 crew (1.5%) aboard the Celebrity Summit have reported sick with "gastrointestinal illness."

You can read about the outbreak on the CDC website here.

There is no indication whether the illness is due to norovirus, e-coli or some other virus or bacteria. 

The CDC is working with Health Canada officials as the cruise ship sails in Canada on its way to Bayonne, New Jersey,  The cruise ship will arrival in Bayonne on October 5, 2013.

The CDC will send an epidemiologist and an environmental health officer to meet the ship and conduct an epidemiologic investigation and environmental health assessment, and monitor the sanitation procedures onboard prior to the embarkation of new passengers.

Over 14% of the passengers being sick with gastrointestinal illness is a very high percentage.  

In the past week, we have reported about cruise ship norovirus outbreaks on two Fred Olsen cruise ships, the Black Watch and the Boudicca.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from Golden Princess

Local news stations in San Francisco are reporting that the U.S. Coast rescued a cruise passengers man suffering from acute kidney failure aboard a Princess cruise ship 40 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday morning.

A 79-year-old Canadian man was demonstrating symptoms of kidney failure while aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship which was sailing to Los Angeles. 

The Coast Guard helicopter lowered a crew member was lowered onto the ship and then hoisted the sick passenger and the cruise ship’s nurse up to the helicopter. 

The passenger flown to Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto and was in stable condition Friday afternoon.

Video Credit: U.S. Coast Guard via NBC Bay Area

 

"Black Death Plague Ship?" Cruise Ship Sickness Back in the News

The Daily Record reports that the Fred Olsen Black Watch was nick-named "Black Death" after more than 100 passengers were struck down by a norovirus outbreak during a 12-night Scandinavia and St Petersburg cruise. 

The cabins of infected quarantined passengers were marked with crosses to warn cruise staff who wore face masks for protection. Their luggage and bags were was marked with chalk to protect baggage handlers.

An ambulance was waiting in the home port to take a sick cruise passenger to the hospital Black Watch Cruise Ship Norovirusin Dunfermline.

The newspaper reports that the previous cruise also had a norovirus outbreak. The newspaper quoted a passenger on the sickly cruise ship saying:

“The staff marked doors of those infected with a cross. It was like the Dark Ages. Forget the Black Watch – we were on the Black Death plague ship.”

130 out of 778 guests became ill.

Meanwhile a small number (8) cruise passengers aboard the the luxury cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2 (QM2), come down with gastrointestinal symptoms thought to be norovirus, according to the Daily Echo

Norovirus is also commonly known as the "cruise ship sickness."

The cruise industry hates it when people call it that. Cruise lines point out that norovirus is also common in hospitals, nursing homes and child-care facilities. They are right of course. But it's a sad commentary when you have to compare high priced cruise ships to places with ill patients, infirm geriatrics, and kids with poop in their diapers.

Carnival Fascination Cruise Ship Flunks Health and Sanitation Inspection

A Carnival cruise ship has become the sixth cruise ship this year to flunk a sanitation inspection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Carnival Fascination failed the surprise inspection with a score of only 84. You can read the report from the CDC here.  It's full of dirty and unsanitary conditions in the galley and food serving areas, as well as problems with the recreational water supplies.

The Fascination had a problem which we are hearing about more often, that is when crew members are experiencing acute gastrointestinal illness but keep working. This substantially increases the Carnival Fascination Cruise Shipchances that they will infect other crew members and the passengers that they come into contact with. The problem is particularly critical when the infected crew are food handlers. 

Five other cruise ships have failed CDC inspections this year.

Two weeks ago we wrote about the Celebrity Summit, the Golden Princess, the Sea Dream Yacht Club's Sea Dream, and the Caribbean Fantasy operated by America Cruise Ferries all of which flunked the CDC inspections. You can read our article: Disease Breeding Grounds: Three Cruise Ships Fail Health & Sanitary Inspections

A week ago, we wrote about another Celebrity Cruises ship, the Celebrity Century, which also failed the inspection.

Read the U.K.'s Daily Mail article:  Carnival Fascination Fails Health Inspection After Dead Flies, Leaking Brown Material and Cockroach 'Nymph' Found on Board

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jonathan Schilling

Helicopter Medevacs Sick Celebrity Crew Member from Solstice Cruise Ship

Celebrity Solstice Helicopter Pad - MedevacA newspaper in Australia is reporting that a Care Flight helicopter rescued a 22-year-old crew member off a cruise ship off the coast of Arnhem Land.

The helicopter flew to the Celebrity Solstice which was sailing 500 kilometers north east of Darwin, Australia. 

The Celebrity crew member reportedly suffered a "cardiac problem." A nurse and doctor accompanied the helicopter after notification from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The helicopter was expected to refuel at the remote town of Maningrida before flying  another 100 kilometers km out to sea to reach the cruise ship. Unlike many cruise ships, the Solstice has a helipad on the bow.

The newspaper reports that the Celebrity Solstice left Darwin yesterday on a two-day cruise to Cairns, in north Queensland.

 

Photo credit: Harrogate Flickr

Emergency Medevac of Sick Passenger from Crown Princess?

Coast Guard Rescue Crown Princess Cruise ShipI am being told by a reliable source that the U.S. Coast Guard is about to conduct an emergency medevac of an ill passenger from the Crown Princess cruise ship which is heading to Galveston and will arrive tomorrow.

It is less than clear whether there is any connection to the norovirus outbreak on the cruise ship.  The cruise has been under red level disease alert throughout the crossing from Europe.

The ship is facing heavy swells and the helicopter is facing strong winds.

The last medevac from the Crown Princess was in March.  You can see the video here.

Does anyone have information to confirm this latest story?

December 21, 2012 Update:  There's an update to this story we reported this morning:

The incident involves a 68 year old woman who was suffering from internal bleeding and had to be medevaced by a Coast Guard MH-65 helicopter which flew 140 miles south of the Mississippi River's Southwest Pass to the Princess cruise ship. The Times Picaynue states that the cruise ship alerted the Coast Guard station in New Orleans about 2 AM this morning, reporting that the woman had received blood transfusions on the ship. At the time, the ship was about 200 miles offshore. 

 

Photo and video credit: U.S. Coast Guard

"Like a Crime Scene:" Passengers Threaten Riot on Sickly Cruise Ship "Vomit Hell"

U.K. and Australian newspapers don't mince words. Unlike the U. S. media which may politely refer to nasty norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship as a "stomach bug," the U.K. press and an Australian newspaper are using some choice words to describe a vomiting virus which has swept through P&O's Oriana cruise ship, sickening many hundreds of passengers.

The P&O crew taped off areas of the ship "like a crime scene" while passengers said the liner reeked of vomit, the British tabloid The Sun reports.  Reports of 300 to 400 ill passengers have come from on board the cruise ship. "There might be a riot because the captain and crew refuse to listen. We'll refuse to disembark unless we get some answers. It's been a cruise to hell," British passenger Dave Stringer, 57, told The Sun as mentions in its article Fury Over Cruise Ship Vomit Hell.

P&O Oriana Cruise Ship NorovirusIt seems that P&O is blaming the passengers for allegedly bringing the virus aboard and then spreading it by not washing their hands - which is the cruise industry's usual defense to a sick ship.

The London Evening Standard reports that the cruise line appears to be involved in a cover-up:

"A spokeswoman for P&O's parent company Carnival said there had been 'an incidence of a mild gastrointestinal illness' among the passengers.

She added that as of today, of 1,843 passengers, 'the number of passengers with active symptoms is six.'

But passenger Paul Gilman, 62, told the Daily Mail: "It has been outrageous from start to finish. People were falling like flies, yet the crew were trying to insist everything was fine.

'Everyone is saying, this is a plague ship. It's a living nightmare.'"

The Oriana returns to Southampton today where, after "enhanced cleaning" takes place, the ship will re-rack with another 1,800 passengers for a holiday cruise.  Stay tuned for more vomit-cruise-from-hell stories.

 

Photo Credit: News Tank

Disease on HAL's Amsterdam Sickens 10% of Passengers

Cruise Ship Illness The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 10% of the passengers aboard Holland America Line's Amsterdam cruise ship were sickened by a disease on the ship. It is not yet known whether the disease was norovirus or due to some other causative agent. 

The Amsterdam was in port in San Diego yesterday after a long cruise starting in Sydney Australia on November 11 and arriving in San Diego on December 5, 2012. 81 of 791 passengers became ill. This turns out to be 10.24% of all passengers (assuming all passengers reported their illness and the cruise line accurately reported the outbreak to the CDC). This is an extremely high percentage of affected passengers.

The cruise line's PR department down-played the outbreak saying "a number of guests reported to the infirmary with a common type of gastrointestinal illness."  The popular cruise site Cruise Critic (owned by Expedia travel company) shrugged the illness off as due to a "stomach bug" and repeated HAL's advice to passengers for "extra hand washing."

As usual, there is no discussion regarding the most likely cause of the outbreak. Cruise lines like HAL like to blame the passengers and suggest that they brought the virus aboard and it was then spread because other passengers didn't wash their hands. If this is viral based, due to norovirus, or due to e-coli infection, the real culprit is probably contaminated food or water.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whereas "person to person" transmission of norovirus has been documented, "norwalk gastroenteritis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated water and foods." The FDA indicates that contaminated water is one of the most likely causes of norovirus. The FDA reports that "water is the most common source of outbreaks and may include water from municipal supplies, well, recreational lakes, swimming pools, and water stored aboard cruise ships."

Most of the affected passengers reportedly became symptomatic after the cruise ship left its last port of call (Hilo, Hawaii) on November 29th. Are we to believe that suddenly 10% of the passengers suddenly stopped washing their hands? Or is it more likely that contaminated food or water introduced at the last port of call were the culprit?

The Friends of the Environment (FOE) has an interesting article that the problem is not sick passengers affecting the cruise ship, but sick ships affecting the passengers. FOE tracked the top 12 cruise ships with the most gastrointestinal outbreaks from 2000 to the present, based on the CDC data.

Out of the top 12 sickest ships, HAL operates 5 of them and has the top three sickest ships. HAL's Amsterdam is number 2. The Ryndam is number 1. The Veendam, which recently flunked a CDC health inspection (you can read about the filthy ship here and here), is number 3. The other HAL cruise ships which made the top 12 sickest list are the Volendam (no. 9) and the Zaandam (No. 11).  

Holland america Line Cruise Ships - Norovirus

Art credit: Chan Lowe / Sun Sentinel

Chart Credit: Friends of the Earth

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

Busy Weekend For Cruise Ship Medevacs: Coast Guard Rescues Sick Passenger From Carnival Inspiration

Carnival Inspiration Medevac - Coast Guard HelicopterThe U.S. Coast Guard issued a press release indicating that it medically evacuated a passenger from a cruise ship 50 miles southwest of Point Loma yesterday afternoon.

The Carnival Inspiration cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard yesterday shortly before noon requesting a medevac for a 26 year old man who was experiencing rapid heart rate and possible cardiac complications.

Coast Guard Sector San Diego dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to fly to the cruise ship to perform the medevac.

The aircrew hoisted the man and the ship’s nurse to the helicopter and transported them to San Diego, where they transferred the ill man to emergency medical personnel.

This was the third medevac from a cruise ship this weekend.  Previously the Coast Guard rescued a pregnant passenger from the Disney Magic and flew her to a hospital in Galveston, Texas.  And an ill passenger was hoisted by a helicopter, operated by the Australian Navy, from the Sea Princess cruise ship and taken to a hospital in Australia.   

 

Photo / video credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Australian Navy Helicopter Rescues Sick Passenger From Sea Princess Cruise Ship

Sea Princess Cruise Ship RescueA newspaper in Australia reports that an Australian Navy helicopter airlifted a sick elderly passenger from a Princess cruise ship off the coast of Western Australia after a medical emergency today.

The elderly passenger was suffering from acute stomach pains.  In response, the Sea Princess cruise ship contacted the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba which was was training nearby the cruise ship as it sailed north of Cape Naturaliste.

The helicopter airlifted the passenger to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital for treatment.

The Sea Princess continued its cruise and is due to arrive in Adelaide in five days.

Independence of the Seas - a Dirty Cruise Ship? Sick Passengers Sue Royal Caribbean for £500,000

The U.K.'s Daily Echo reports today that twenty-five ill cruise passengers (and their family members) who sailed aboard the Independence of the Seas filed a lawsuit against the Miami based cruise line, Royal Caribbean Cruises, claiming that the dirty ship conditions and unsanitary galley and food led them to become ill.

The newspaper states that in addition to the unsanitary shipboard conditions, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship had insufficient medical facilities and staff to deal with disease outbreaks during cruises.

The lawsuit is described in the newspaper article as including complaints of "flies in their bathrooms, a waiter blowing (his) nose on a napkin that was then placed on a table and an outbreak of illness Independence of the Seas - Norovirus so severe there were often ambulances waiting for passengers in the ports they visited."

There is no mention where the lawsuit was filed or the name of the passengers' lawyers, but it appears that the case was filed in England. The passengers are seeking £500,000 in compensation from the cruise line. The Independence of the Seas sailed from Southampton England.

The affected passengers sailed on five different cruises over the course of a seven month period from December 2010 through June 2011.  In the U.S. courts, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have successfully enforced a one year limitations period.  There appears to be a longer limitations period in which to file suit in the U.K.

Royal Caribbean denied the allegations of under-cooked food and poor galley hygiene, stating that it delivered “extremely high” health standards for its guests. During the time period in question, "the ship, Independence of the Seas, sailed on 15 cruises, welcoming over 67,000 guests."

Although the cruise line is down-playing the allegations, the fact of the matter is that Royal Caribbean had a problem with norovirus on this cruise ship notwithstanding its attempts at "enhanced cleaning."  It should be pointed out that if the cruise line really carried some 67,000 passengers in this six month period, it collected well over £100,000,000 as well.    

The last norovirus outbreak we reported on which occurred on the Independence  of the Seas was in March 2012.

Independence of the Seas - Lawsuit - Unsanitary FoodThe cruise lines always blame the passengers for not washing their hands, but there is far more to the story than pointing the finger at the guests. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whereas "person to person" transmission of norovirus has been documented, "norwalk gastroenteritis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated water and foods."

The FDA also indicates that contaminated water is one of the most likely causes of norovirus. The FDA reports that "water is the most common source of outbreaks and may include water from municipal supplies, well, recreational lakes, swimming pools, and water stored aboard cruise ships." 

Consider a couple of our articles regarding this subject: 

Cruise Ship Norovirus - Clean the Damn Toilets!

Cruise Ship Bathrooms, Norovirus and Medical Care

It will be interesting how this case turns out! 

 

Photo credits:

Drawing - Maxim Magazine

Independence of the Seas - Echo Daily

Coast Guard Medevacs Ill Cruise Passenger From Carnival Glory

The U.S. Coast Guard website reports that it medically evacuated a 41-year-old woman from the Carnival Glory cruise ship today.  The passenger reportedly exhibited stroke-like symptoms.

The cruise ship was approximately 55 miles southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts at the time of the emergency.

Coast Guard Sector Boston received the word from the Carnival cruise ship at approximately 3:35 p.m. In response, Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod launched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to the scene. Carnival Glory Cruise Ship Coast Guard MedevacThe helicopter hoisted the ill woman up to safety and then transported her to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, R.I.

The Coast Guard website quotes a John Tomaszewski , a search and rescue coordinator at Sector Boston, "our crews launched swiftly . . . they were able to hoist her and get her the care she needed.

The Coast Guard did not comment on the passenger's medical condition.  

The last medevac from the Carnival Glory occurred, according to our records, in May 2010 when the Coast Guard in Miami rescued that a 36 year-old pregnant woman who needed emergency medical treatment.  

Read about other Coast Guard rescues here

Coast Guard medevacs like this are always the highlight of Cruise Law News.  The Coast Guard just celebrated its 222nd birthday! 

Anyone with photos, video or information about this latest Coast Guard rescue, please leave a comment. 

 

Photo: Space Coast Blogger

MSC Armonia Crewmember Dies, Passengers Hospitalized

MSC Armonia Cruise Ship - Dead Crewmember, Sick PassengersA reader of Cruise Law News in Brazil has informed us that a crewmember of the Armonia cruise ship, operated by MSC Cruises, died yesterday after being admitted to the hospital in serious condition.

A newspaper in Brazil (G1 in Sao Paulo) reports that a local woman, Fabiana Pasquarelli, age 30, was taken from the MSC cruise ship and was eventually admitted to the intensive care unit of Hospital Ana Costa.

The deceased crewmember worked as a waitress and was taken to the hospital on Wednesday with a fever and cough and was apparently diagnosed with pneumonia.  

There is also speculation that she may have died of swine flu.

Five other crewmembers are also sick and have been under observation in the hospital since Friday. 

The cruise line said that passengers are disembarking the cruise ship today and new passengers will board.

Fabiana Pasquarelli MSC Cruises ArmoniaIf you have information about this incident, please leave a message below.  

February 18, 2012 Update:  Passengers from the cruise ship have also been hospitalized in serious condition.

Another Brazilian newspaper, A Tribuna, has an account and reports that the diagnosis is unclear although it is the result of an infectious process.  

Ms. Pasquarelli died of an acute respiratory failure after being placed on a ventilator.  

February 19, 2012 Update:

A newspaper in Brazil states that seven people of the ten passengers and crew from the cruise ship were released from the hospital. Three remain hospitalized.  The hospital ran tests to determine the type of infection that caused the sickness.

Five crewmembers have contacted us, wishing to remain anonymous, complaining that Ms. Pasquarelli's medical treatment was delayed.  Read comments below.

February 21, 2012 Update:

A spokesperson for MSC left a comment below.

Also, a newspaper in Buenos Aires reports that heath authorities in Uruguay were on board the MSC cruise ship, which docked this morning at the main port in Montevideo after fears of a flu outbreak. The ship is expected to arrive to Buenos Aires tomorrow.  Osvaldo Fabacchi, the head of Port Administration in Montevideo, stated that “at present the cause of the crew member’s death has not been confirmed. The autopsy has yet to be carried out in order to determine and confirm the cause of death.”

Two Princess Cruise Ships Sicken Passengers with Norovirus

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.

Princess Cruises Ships NorovirusThe "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:

 Norovirus On Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas Sickens 200 Passengers - Fifth Cruise Ship Sickness Outbreak This Year!

 

Photo Credit:   CBS-12

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger from Queen Mary 2 Cruise Ship

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an ill passenger from the Queen May 2 cruise ship off of the coast of North Carolina.

The video below shows the the skilled crew of a Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter lifting a 64 year old woman from the deck of the QM2 cruise ship.  The passenger was suffering from severe abdominal pains.  The cruise ship was sailing 110 miles off the coast of Nags Head, North Carolina on December 20, 2011.  The Coast Guard flew the ill woman to a hospital in Norfolk Virginia. 

 

 

Video Credit:  U.S. Coast Guard

Rescued Passenger Kisses and Waves Goodbye to Cruise Ship

One of the stories I never tire of reporting is when a Coast Guard helicopter plucks a sick cruise passenger from the deck of a cruise ship and takes the passenger ashore for emergency medical treatment.

The skill of the U.S. Coast Guard in rescuing people from cruise ships is rather remarkable. The Coast Guard can fly 200 miles out to sea to medevac ill and injured passengers and crew.  Other than England, Canada and perhaps a few other countries, you will not see anyone performing life saving heroic missions to rescue the needy on the high seas other than the U.S. Coast Guard.     

Below is a video of a Coast Guard helicopter hoisting a young woman from the deck of the Explorer cruise ship as the ship returned from a Caribbean cruise.  The helicopter took the passenger to a hospital in Key West.

At the end of the video, you can see the young lady in the rescue basket waving to the cruise ship, and kissing goodbye perhaps to a loved one below.

 

 

Video credit:  U.S. Coast Guard

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick NCL Cruise Passenger

A number of news sources are reporting that yesterday the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an ill cruise passengerman from a cruise ship to a North Carolina hospital for treatment.

The ship doctor on the Norwegian Cruise ine's Gem cruise ship notified the Coast Guard that  a 38-year-old man was going into shock. The cruise ship was reportedly about 75 miles east of Wilmington at the time.

A helicopter from the Coast Guard Air Station in Elizabeth City North Carolina then flew the man from the cruise ship to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington.

The Coast Guard says the man was in stable condition. His name was not released.

 

Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas - First Sick Cruise Ship of 2011

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has listed Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas as the first cruise ship in 2011 to suffer gastrointestinal illness affecting more than 2% of the vessel's passengers.

The CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program website has indicated that 150 of 2336 (6.42%) of the Royal Caribbean passengers reported being ill during the cruise on the Radiance from January 3 - 8, 2011.  The CDC information on the Radiance can be seen here

Radiance of the Seas - Norovirus? - Tampa Local 13-News station has the headline "Sick Cruise Ship Docked at Tampa Port," indicating that vacationers on board suffered from vomiting and diarrhea. The illnesses will delay the ship from returning to sea later today. The station indicates that the cruise ship's departure will be delayed approximately five hours, until 9:30 p.m., "so crews can sanitize the vessel."

The cruise line is advising cruise passengers who have recently experienced gastrointestinal illness should reschedule their cruise.  The CDC is reporting that the cruise line's response to the outbreak is "increased cleaning and disinfection procedures." 

The CDC at this point has not determined whether norovirus is causing the outbreak, nor the source of the "causative factor."  If norovirus is involved, most outbreaks of norovirus are from food and water, not by person to person contact as the cruise lines claim. 

As we have reported 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."  The FDA reports that "water is the most common source of outbreaks and may include water from municipal supplies, well, recreational lakes, swimming pools, and water stored aboard cruise ships."

When stories like this occur, the cruise lines blame the passengers and tell them to wash their hands. The cruise ships then spray cleaning fluids everywhere.  But no one ever reveals whether the ship's food and water have been tested and the results of the tests.

The Radiance of the Seas had norovirus outbreaks before.  One passenger took this video of nasty looking tap water on the Radiance on a prior cruise.  An equally disgusting video of brown water on a Carnival cruise ship is here.  

But the winner of the gross-cruise-tap-water award goes to Carnival and is shown here.

Does anyone have video for this cruise?

Were you on the cruise?  How did Royal Caribbean handle the situation?

January 8, 2010 Update:

Passengers on the cruise arre beginning to leave comments, below, that the ice may have been contaminated, that this was a "vacation from hell," and there were way more than 150 passenger  sick.  A few passengers say they still had a great time . . .  

 

 

Photo credit:   Tampa's 13-News Station

Video credit:  ABC News

Additional Passengers Sickened on Mercury Cruise Ship

Celebrity Cruises is again reporting that at least 55 passengers have fallen ill on its Mercury cruise ship with norovirus-like symptoms. 

In a prior article we questioned: Will the Celebrity Mercury Infect Another Round of Passengers?

Here We Go Again

A local news source in South Carolina, the Palmetto Scoop, reports on the latest cruise Cruise Ship Norovirus - Sick Passengersship sickness in an article entitled "Sickness Again Plagues Charleston Cruise Ship:" 

The crew of the Celebrity Cruises “Mercury” ship, which docks in Charleston, thought they had thoroughly sanitized the vessel after nearly one-quarter of the 1,800 travelers came down with a norovirus-like illness on their last voyage. 

Turns out they didn’t do a very good job.

The Mercury ship set sail from Charleston on Saturday and within days, dozens of passengers became sick.  As of Friday, 55 of the 1,880 travelers had fallen ill with the norovirus stomach bug.

Norovirus is a disease common to cruise ships because it is highly contagious and affects confined communities. The unpleasant disease usually runs its course after a day or two and spreads through food, water, or person-to-person contact.

Celebrity Cruises has based the Mercury in Charleston, South Carolina where officials have reported twice as many cases of norovirus as normal this winter. The Associated Press reports that the virus may have come aboard the cruise ship by passengers, crewmembers or infected supplies.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Cruises is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises whose cruise ships have experienced a large number of norovirus cases this season. 

Other Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships Experiencing Widespread Illness

The Huffington Post reports that at least 310 passengers were sickened aboard Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas. A spokeswoman for the Brazil's National Agency for Sanitary Vigilance stated that the sickness was caused by "some kind of food poisoning aboard"  the cruise ship.  Earlier this week, Brazil ordered all 1,987 passengers and 765 crew members to remain on the ship anchored near Rio de Janeiro.  The passengers were just recently permitted to leave the ship. 

Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises' Millennium cruise ships have also reported of a large number of ill cruise passengers. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 102 passengers and 14 crewmembers suffered gastrointestinal illness on the Jewel of the Seas, and 157 passengers and 23 crewmembers became ill on the Millennium

You can track cruise norovirus cases via the CDC has a web page which tracks "Outbreak Updates for International Cruise Ships," although not all cruise illnesses are required to be reported to the CDC.  For example, the recent outbreak of illness on the Vision of the Seas was not reported to the CDC. 

For other information about norovirus on cruise ships, consider reading Cruise Ship Norovirus - Clean the Damn Toilets!

 

Video:          WCSC (AP)