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 Voyager 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."
Many 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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?
Bill Hearne - top photos of Voyager of the Seas
Australia's Daily Telegraph - bottom photo of Royal Caribbean letter