This evening we received an email from a passenger on the Sun Princess cruise ship stating that the cruise ship is experiencing an outbreak of what is described as norovirus which is diminishing the cruise experience of the passengers. 

The primary complaint seems to be that the cruise line allegedly knew about the noro outbreak but did not tell the passengers until after the ship sailed. Earlier, on December 26th, we previously posted comments about noro virus on the Sun Princess.  Here’s what we received this evening:

"The Sun Princess is again out in the South Pacific with about 2,000 "Guests," all of whom were boarded without advice that the ship was sailing at ‘RED ALERT’ levels for the NORO virus raging in the vessel. The company is clever at preserving their profits at the risk of passenger health in not advising passengers of the outbreaks until well out on the ocean.

Holiday pleasures diminished, no condiments on tables, no self-service buffers, constant urgings to use expensive bottled water, very expensive medical centre visits, confined to cabins etc. etc. etc This concealment of health risks is deeply concerning and must be addressed by the industry at large right now."

We have written hundreds of articles over the years about noro virus and how the cruise line handle (and don’t handle) the outbreaks. The cruise lines always blame the passengers for not not washing their hands, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have concluded that the most common causative factor is contaminated food and water.

Irrespective of what side you are on in this debate, there are a couple of things that everyone should agree on.

First, there is not enough time during turn-around day for the cruise ships to be adequately cleaned. There is not even enough time to figure out from an epidemiology perspective where the virus came from.  All of the spraying and wiping and fogging are pointless if the water or food are contaminated with the virus. But the cruise lines pressure the crew to madly try and super-clean the ship when it returns at the end of the cruise. 

Secondly, if the cruise line knows that there is a viral outbreak, it should be required to tell the passengers before they embark on the ship. Passengers should not be forced to sail on sick ships.

I for one would hate to take my family into a cabin where just a few hours earlier a sick family was power-puking millions of microbes of noro pathogens everywhere.

Update: Statement by Princess Cruises. Princess provided a statement which reads in its entirety as follows:

"Sun Princess experienced an outbreak of AGE on the prior voyage, however the cause (now known to be Norovirus) was not confirmed until the next voyage began.

During both voyages, the ship increased sanitation procedures, announcements were made by the captain, and letters were distributed to all passengers advising of the situation onboard. We also received verification from New South Wales Health that they were happy with the ship’s actions and response." 

Have a thought?  Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Lemeki Lenoa

  • Gilberto Novelo

    Early December while sailing off the coast of Central America in Splendor of the Seas, we were told we had an outbreak of norovirus on board. Crew took action sanitizing and establishing food control. We never knew how many cases we had on board, but it was frenzy all around. However, Splendor of the Seas departed from Fort Lauderdale same day we disembarked.

  • John Goldsmith

    here is a statement from the Queen Mary, which is delayed in Harbour due to weather. I trust they are spending time cleaning while they are waiting?

    For all guests boarding Queen Mary 2 in New York today, we can confirm that she will not depart before midnight this evening, due to the inclement weather. The cruise terminal is open and accessible by road. We will continue to monitor the situation and will advise you of any development. We wish all guests joining us on board, a safe journey to the cruise terminal.

  • David fairclough

    Diamond princess has norovirus too, due in Aukland on 16thjan

  • Mary Karlson

    I was on the sun princess 17th-30th dec nz cruise. We were not told that there was an outbreak on board with the previus cruise but worked it out as soon as we entered the buffet for lunch. By 2am day three I was more sick than I have ever been in my life, with – you guessed it acute gastroenteritis! ! I was quarantined for 4 days and unwell for the rest of the cruise. Yes the attention from staff was commendable and they were themselves exhausted so my complaint has nothing to do with the staff who did their best. My shock is that the company profits from this illness.! It was already on board…I was obsessed with hygiene -hand washing , hand sanitising etc..I was well when I boarded Sun Princess, and ended up $264 out of pocket for medication and a
    visit from the emergency nurse..that just doesnt seem ethical. I have written to the cruise line via the end of cruise survey and to date have had no response.

  • Sue Hammons

    We were on the Caribbean Princess Jan 11-18. The morning of the cruise, we received an email that it would be 2 before we could board instead of noon due to disinfecting. We finally boarded at 7 that evening. The cruise was well below what Princess usually provides. Princess obviously knew several days before our cruise date and should have given us the option to cancel. I think the passengers deserve a good part of the cost back.

  • Chris Renton

    Here we are now December 19.12.16 just boarded the Sun Princess from Freemantle & the ship is full of Norovirus I agree with above comments you go aboard healthy onto a sick ship & they cash grab at every opportunity medical, changes to itinerary, nobody is advised as I just checked with my travel agent & last email was on 19.12. with change to boarding time, no mention of virus nor not visiting all ports we paid for.

    Very unprofessional & well below standard something should be done to change this practise around.