Earlier this month, we were contacted by passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas because of back-to-back norovirus outbreaks requiring "deep cleaning" of the cruise ship.You can read our article about the situation here

A number of passengers complained of some pretty gross conditions:

One lady said "i was swimming and had to go round feces, which was also in the jacuzzi…it was reported but nothing was said . . . "

Another man said "the most serious issue on board the ship was the failure of its sewage system, a point admitted by its officers during the Q and A session. The ship stank like a Royal Caribbean Cruise Norovirussewage farm throughout the 14 days. We we also found the bed linen in our cabin filthy (pillows were brown and needed to be replaced) . . . This ship has problems!"

And then there was the inevitable debate whether the virus outbreak was caused by the failure of some passengers to wash their hands versus noro-contaminated food or water versus a virus-laden ship itself.

Passengers are now telling us that the norovirus outbreak continues on the third consecutive sailing of the Adventure which is scheduled for yet another so-called "deep cleaning" this weekend. Passengers received an email from the company explaining the the ship will undergo the enhanced cleaning before it leaves Southampton on Sunday, October 26th. Will the next cruise become the fourth consecutive "Norovirus on the High Seas?"

Some of the people who contacted us have small children, elderly parents, elderly grandparents or they are recovering from cancer, or have suppressed immune systems. They are asking whether they can cancel and obtain a refund or reschedule. They are asking us what to do.

Unfortunately the cruise line holds all of the cards in this situation. Royal Caribbean will certainly keep your money if you don’t show up for the cruise and it will absolutely not issue you a refund. The only issue is whether the cruise line will permit a few people to reschedule on a case-by-case basis. 

Royal Caribbean just announced yesterday that it made almost $500,000,000 in profits for the third quarter of this year (and pays no U.S. taxes on that loot) so you might think that it has sufficient money to be understanding and reasonable under this circumstances. After all, its ship is sick. Who on earth wants to voluntarily subject their family to disease? But Royal Caribbean has a strict attitude against permitting fearful customers to reschedule even if there’s something wrong with its ship. 

One person who contacted us said he was nervous about his family "catching the bug" but fell that he has no chance to reschedule. He said he "will let you know how it went!"

Customers should not become human guinea pigs like this. A good vacation should not depend on the success of another last minute "deep cleaning" of a sick ship which repeatedly failed.

The ship is enormous – 15 decks, 10 pools and whirlpools, 15 bars, clubs and lounges, and thousands and thousands of cabins packed into its 1,000 plus feet. Its an enormous undertaking to clean a ship like this. The chance of a 100% eradication of the nasty bug is slim, no matter how hard the crew is pressed into working overtime.  It takes only a few microbes of noro to sicken the next round of guests. The norovirus could be hidden under the commode seat cover or in the fabric of the duvet covers where the prior passengers were blasting millions of microbes of noro-infected vomit and diarrhea into the bathroom’s and cabin’s crooks and crannies. 

There are few laws protecting consumers on the high seas. There should be a norovirus policy where a passenger can obtain a hassle-free refund whenever there is a consecutive disease outbreak.  

If you get sick on the upcoming cruise, consider hiring a lawyer. No, not me. There’s a good firm in the U.K. which has successfully handled cases this like. You can contact them here.

The cruise line is counting on the hundreds of its customers who fall victim to the pukefest not knowing what to do. After all, you and your family are really not guinea pigs, even if the cruise line treats you like one.   

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

  • Robin

    We were nervous about the lack of cleanliness on our last RC cruise. The pool was disturbingly dirty. We took pictures of the pool on embarkation, and several days later. It looked sparkling clean on day one, but was literally brown by day Four. A picture is worth a thousands words, but I’d use just one … unsanitary.

  • Glen Swatman

    Serious concerns as this trip was booked as family cruise to celebrate my husband recovering from leuakemia. Having had a stem cell transplant his immune system is compromised as is mine after a splenectomy earlier this year.

    Taking loads of anti bacterial hand wipes and will use these to wipe all surfaces in the cabin and things like TV remote as soon as we arrive. Will clean our hands frequently and at mealtimes our hands, the table and cutlery etc.

    In a balcony cabin so can get fresh air but wonder if there is anything else we can do to help ourselves please ?

    Does anyone know if all the air conditioner filters are being changed during the cleaning on Sunday ?

  • Enough

    I’m really sick and tired of guests badmouthing the ships and ship’s staff…Lately I’ve seen a lot of negative comments about Royal Caribbean ships so I dont know is this like a organized thing or Royal guests are just having just too much time on their hand.
    I’ve been working for Royal for 5 years as well as Adventure of the seas and I’ve been around so many guests in the public/guests areas. All those people came from deferent countries and cultures but their well manners,anyone would say,are left at home. I’ve seen so many times people acting like an animals in any place where the food is…taking food with their hands(even tho proper equipment is left on the side to be used) sneezing into the food…not washing or sanitizing their hands…coming directly from the pool not properly dressed….always something…So I would say to the dear guests…instead of making bad comments and badmouthing everything u “payed” for…u should maybe get some manners or maybe “pay” for that…With all due respect to the other wonderful “normal” people who have manners and know what is proper way of acting in closed environment with a lot of people…

  • Mark

    I was working for Royal Caribbean as an Officer. This kind of outbreaks happened once in while. They couldn’t kill norovirus for a few consecutive cruises (5-6 weeks!) on one of the ships. Hundreds of people in a waiting room in front of a ship hospital. And the company treated people, crew members like animals. I’d never go for a vacation there, just to become sick. Pay and get sick, ridiculous, right?

  • Janice

    You should be looking more at the hygiene practices of the passengers- it is said that 20% of women and 40% of men do not wash their hands after going to the toilet. Norovirus is normally a feacel oral route

  • William Derek Williams

    I have contacted RCCI, but found it a complete waste of time.
    A number of us are sailing on the transatlantic cruise and are naturally concerned about conditions on board.
    We have cruised quite a number of times and although we have come across Norovirus before, we have not found it on this many consecutive cruises.
    RCCI suggested that I contact my travel agent for info. but would not even discuss the issues on the ship.

  • Rachael

    We have just come back from the European Cruise on Adventure of the Seas on Sunday. The ship was fine. The staff worked very hard indeed to keep the ship clean and so did most of the passengers. Its a credit to the staff.

    According to the captain, there were on a “handful” of reported cases. So I would its well on it was to getting better.

    Amazing cruise liner. Well organised and helpful staff.

  • Karen Downs

    I went on a cruise this summer with RCI. Everywhere you went they had hand sanitizer available. They even had a crew member standing next to it telling people to wash their hands before they entered the restaurants. After standing outside one of the dining rooms for a while one day it is safe to say that 15% or more of the people entering the dining room did not wash their hands. Some actually refusing when asked politely to do so. We also witnessed people using bathrooms and not washing their hands. DISGUSTING! Of course, these will probably be the first to complain when they get sick. I took lysol spray and wipes and cleaned my own room everyday, drank only bottled water and used enough hand sanitizer to float the ship. I only used the bathroom in our room, no public restrooms ever. We even brushed our teeth with bottled water. We had food delivered to our room via room service. We were not sick. Overkill? Maybe but we either were lucky or our cleanliness paid off.

  • Tracey

    I’m getting nervous, our cruise on Adventure of the Seas is exactly one week away.
    We cruised on Freedom of the Seas last time (2013) and had a wonderful experience. I am very concerned with cleanliness so that’s why I’ve been reading as many reviews as I can.
    My fiancé and I have heard that Adventure of the Seas is an older, smaller ship and not as clean as Freedom of the Seas. I am trying not to make any judgements just yet but becoming anxious after negative reviews.