Whooping Cough Outbreak on the Voyager of the Seas?

Whooping CoughThe operator of a fan Voyager of the Seas Facebook page (not operated by the cruise line) posted the following:

"If you where on the Voyager of the Seas relocation cruise from Singapore to Sydney cruise and you have a really bad cough, then I suggest you got and see a Doctor as you may have Whooping cough . . . "

A large number of passengers have posted comments in response to this post. Many passengers on the cruise say that they are ill.  Many people say that they are having their blood drawn and are seeing doctors to have their throats swabbed. Others say that it has been confirmed that they have been diagnosed with whooping cough.

Passengers complain that they have hear nothing from Royal Caribbean. One person who heard back from the cruise line remarked: "I've heard from RC and they told me they are not compelled to notify all passengers . . . "

Whooping cough, also known as "pertussisis," is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the bacterium bordetella pertussis.

Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children. It can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age.

The best way to protect against pertussis is immunization.

Voyager of the Seas

Photo Credit: Antimicrobe.org / Wikipedia (Corgi5623)

Norovirus Continues to Plague Voyager of the Seas Cruise Ship in Australia

The Voyager of the Seas has returned to Australia today after a 18 night cruise.  Like the previous cruise, this cruise aboard the Voyager ended with the cruise ship arriving in port with what appears to be hundreds of cruise passengers infected with norovirus.

We are beginning to receive emails from passengers who were sickened during the cruise (see comments below) and observed "many incidences we saw of poor food handling and personal hygiene practices of both crew members and passengers."

A newspaper in Australia has an article about the problem facing passengers: "Gastro Outbreak Hits Norovirus - Voyager of the SeasVoyager of the Seas Passengers in Sydney Harbour." The article states that the boarding of the "mega liner Voyager of the Seas was thrown into chaos today following an outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness thought to be noro virus." The article mentions that, according to Royal Caribbean, around 135 passengers already aboard the ship were struck by the illness but disembarked in Sydney.

One passenger who contacted us said that around 150 cabins were quarantined which would suggest that Royal Caribbean may have underestimated the number of sick guests.  

According to the newspaper, the lines of passengers at the cruise terminal stretched hundred of meters as frustrated cruisers were left waiting for hours under the sun - many unaware of the cause of the delay. The passengers were required to complete detailed medical forms before they board, but quite frankly it should be the cruise line completing forms detailing the sickness of the cruise ship.  

A cruise line spokeswoman denied any connection between the long lines and the norovirus and blamed "thousands of passengers disregarding allocated staggered boarding times."

Royal Caribbean Norovirus - Voyager of the SeasMany passengers were upset that the cruise line kept them in the dark. Some others were handed at the port an "information sheet" in which Royal Caribbean said those ill had been limited to ''a small percentage of guests.''

What is missing from the newspaper article is the fact that there was a massive outbreak of norovirus on this cruise ship during the prior cruise. No newspapers in Australia reported on the disease outbreak and the cruise line kept mum too. You can read about the prior cruise and the problem with norovirus in our article: "Norovirus Outbreak on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas?"

One passenger, Steve, wrote to us displeased that Royal Caribbean had not disclosed that there was norovirus on the cruise ship when he boarded on February 5th: 

"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!" 

If you were on the cruise, please leave us a comment about how the cruise line handled the situation, or leave us a comment on our facebook page.

Any New Zealanders on the cruise? There is a news reporter from New Zealand who would like to speak with you. Please email me at jim@cruiselaw.com and I will place you in contact with the reporter.

Anyone with photos, either of the "enhanced cleaning" or crew members wearing protective clothing, etc.? Send us your photos to jim@cruiselaw.com 

November 24, 2012 Update: New Zealand newspaper picks up the story: "Sickness Stalks Luxury Superliner"  As usual, no one in the media raises the issue of the cause of the outbreak. Contaminated food or water? Sick crew members? Or infected passengers coming aboard?  

 

Photo credit: 

Bill Hearne - top photos of Voyager of the Seas

Australia's Daily Telegraph - bottom photo of Royal Caribbean letter 

88 Year Old Passenger Medevaced From Voyager of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Medevac - Voyager of the Seas Cruise ShipThere is a nice article in the West Australia newspaper about a elderly cruise passenger who had the misfortune of falling on a cruise ship.    

The article, entitled Love is in the Air Amid Rescue, explains that 88 year-old passenger Ms. Eileen Ewins was traveling with her husband, George Ewins, on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas as the ship re-positioned to Australia for the next 6 months. She fell as she was exiting her cabin and broke her hip. The ship doctor determined that Ms. Ewins needed to be treated on an emergency basis ashore. 

The accident happened on day 12 of the 14 day cruise.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority contacted an offshore helicopter company, the Bristow Group, which sent a helicopter and team of five staff members to fly to cruise ship off of western Australia. 

The helicopter winched both 88 year-old Ms. Ewins as well as her 89 year old husband up and flew them to the Royal Perth Hospital.

"We do everything together," Mr. Perth told the newspaper. 

This is the fourth medevac of an ill passenger from a cruise ship in the last week, including another elderly passenger medevaced from a cruise ship off of the western coast of Australia.

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

Coast Guard Busy Rescuing Sick Cruise Passengers: Three Medevacs in Ten Days

The United States Coast Guard has been busy rescuing ill passengers from cruise ships over the past week. 

Today a newspaper in North Carolina reports that a Coast Guard helicopter medevaced a 49 year old woman from the Carnival Pride cruise ship.  The ship was near Virginia at the time of the emergency medical evacuation.  The medical condition of the passenger was not disclosed.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, launched to assist, hoisted the woman and ship’s nurse and took them to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk.

Yesterday, the Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from Belle Chase (near New Orleans) into the Gulf of Mexico to rescue a man aboard Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas cruise ship.  According to a newspaper in New Orleans, a MH-65C helicopter flew 132 miles into the Gulf to medevac the passenger who was experiencing stroke-like symptoms. The Coast Guard then transferred the passenger to Touro Infirmary in New Orleans.

Last week, the Coast Guard medevaced a man from the Crown Princess, operated by Princess Cruises.  I don't have any information about this medevac. Does anyone have any information about this event or the other two medevacs?

A video of the Crown Princess rescue (credit tigertran01/youtube)  is below. 

 

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

Voyager of the Seas - NorovirusWhile reports of five hundred sick passengers aboard two of Princess Cruises' ships sailing to Fort Lauderdale (Ruby Princess and Crown Princess) dominate the news here in South Florida, a newspaper in New Orleans is reporting that over 200 passengers were stricken with norovirus on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship this weekend.

This means around 700 people on these three cruise ships are battling diarrhea and vomiting.

The norovirus outbreak aboard Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas caused delay of the cruise ship's departure from New Orleans   According to WDSU.com, 20 of the over 200 affected passengers on the ship were quarantined in the port as a result of their illness.

The delay was around two hours Saturday evening as cleaning crews tried to sanitize the cruise ship.  It is impossible to adequately sanitize a ship this large in such a short turn around, assuming the norovirus is not in the cruise ship's food or water.

Yesterday we reported on norovirus outbreaks on the Ruby Princess and Crown Princess.

Last year, there were 14 sickness outbreaks on cruise ships calling on U.S. ports.  So far, in the first five weeks of this year, there are already five outbreaks.

With the Costa Concordia disaster and several other overboards, deaths and shipboard rapes, the cruise industry is off to a rough start in 2012.

Were you on the Voyager of the Seas?  Please leave a comment below and let us know how the cruise line handled the outbreak. 

November 11, 20122 Update:  Passengers report a large norovirus outbreak on the Voyager of the Seas as it sailed to Australia.

November 23, 2012 Update: The norovirus continues to infect unsuspecting passengers aboard the Voyager of the Seas in Australia. This time throughout the November 5 tp 23, 2012 18-night sailing returning to Sydney.

 

Photo credit: Kerry Maloney  / NOLA.com / Times Picayune