Early this Monday morning I reported on an outbreak of meningitis aboard the MSC Orchestra cruise ship. Four MSC crew members were hospitalized yesterday in Livorno, Italy once the cruise ship reached this Italian port. Newspapers in Italy, France, Germany and Spain mentioned the disease outbreak.
But no one in the U.S. mentioned the story.
Meningitis is a serious and often deadly disease. Meningitis developing on a cruise ship filled with several thousand passengers and crew members is a big event, particularly considering that one or more of the crew members worked in the ship’s galley and could infect the unsuspecting passengers though saliva from their mouths and/or throats, or coughing and spewing infected mucous on food or into beverages.
I tweeted my article this morning "Crew Members Aboard MSC Orchestra Stricken With Meningitis." The cruise community on Twitter operating under the #cruise hash tag is relatively small, with cruise agents, and cruise lines and the cruise trade groups all incessantly and incestuously re-twitting everyone else’s tweets about the joys of cruising. But aside from one travel agent who re-tweeted my article about the MSC meningitis cases this morning, none of the major bloggers or cruise publications tweeted or blogged a word about the disease.
The big boys in the world of cruising, like USA TODAY’s CruiseLog and the Expedia-owned Cruise Critic, didn’t mention a thing. Nor did the Miami Herald or the many travel agent publications or any of the regular cruise and travel bloggers. Instead, we had USA TODAY CruiseLog’s last blog about "Princess’ Next Ship to Have a Water and Light Show" and CruiseCritic writing about "Work Starts on Biggest P&O Cruise Ship."
Finally late tonight we have CNN reporting the story, commenting that more than 2,800 doses of antibiotics (Ciprofloxacin and Rifampicin) were issued for passengers. CNN repeated the Italian Health Ministry’s comments that "the strand was found in the crew that worked in the kitchen and that, therefore, they should not have had continuous and close contact with passengers." CNN also brought forth the ominous information from the Ministry in Italy that passengers who have disembarked in the past week from the prior cruise should take similar antibiotics.
This morning I mentioned that the press in Italy reported that some 400 children were aboard the Orchestra and were told to take the antibiotics out of concern of possible exposure to the diseased crew members. Certainly this is not the type of a cruise story involving at least one or more infected galley workers that only a little blog like mine and a few random twitters should cover and the major U.S. media should ignore until CNN reports on it 12 hours later.
Are the travel publications and major cruise bloggers afraid to offend their friends in the cruise industry? Are they just trained monkeys who see, hear and speak no evil?