With the norovirus controversy swirling around the Explorer of the Seas, Royal Caribbean cruise line executive Richard Fain appeared on a CNBC financial program today with host Simon Hobbs. Chairman Fain was discussing the fourth quarter 2013 profits when the issue came up of the over 600 sick passengers and crew.
Mr. Fain seemed to become quite defensive. He placed blame for what the ship doctors believe is the dreadful norovirus, saying: "They’re having a lot of cold up in the north."
Of course norovirus is not a cold, and its not caused by the cold. Far from it.
Norovirus is transmitted by fecally contaminated food or water; by person-to-person contact; and via aerosolization of the virus and subsequent contamination of surfaces. It can linger around for a week or two on surfaces and fabrics and even months and years in contaminated water.
How and why norovirus appears on cruise ships is a hotly debated topic.
Unless and until the CDC epidemiologist locates how the norovirus came on the cruise ship, it will be anyone’s guess where the nasty bug came from. Blaming the people from New Jersey for bring a cold aboard the Explorer of the Seas is preposterous, but that’s part of the blame game that cruise lines play.
The game plan for cruise lines is to always blame the passengers for the virus and to take the focus off of the possibility that an ill galley worker spread the virus or there were contamination problems with the food or water in the first place.
Mr. Fain told CNBC "’we screen our passengers best we can." Again, blame the passengers who slipped through the screening process, rather than saying that they screen their crew, food and water.
Mr. Fain said his ships are "amazingly safe and secure" but he "wished he didn’t have to prove it so many times."
Well if you have over 600 passengers and crew sick with norovirus puking all over the place, you have some proving to do again. Accusing the people from Hoboken of having a cold is not going to work.