HAl MaasdamThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that 60 passengers aboard the HAL Maasdam are ill with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

That is 5.27% of the 1,138 total passengers aboard the cruise ship.

In addition, 11 of the 578 crew members are stricken with the gastrointestinal illness. 

A local CBS station is reporting on the outbreak. 

The CDC hasn’t figured out whether the outbreak is due to norovirus. Unfortunately, given the short turn-around time in port for cruise ships and the agency’s limited investigation, the CDC has never determined whether a GI outbreak on a cruise ship was due to contaminated food or water versus an ill crew member versus being brought aboard by a sick passenger and then spread through poor hygiene or inadequate cleaning.   

This is the seventh GI outbreak this year which falls within the U.S. CDC parameters. Only ships with more than 3% of the passengers ill and calling on a U.S. port are listed. There were 9 outbreaks in all of 2014 versus 7 in just 4 months this year. The HAL cruise ship fleet is one of the more likely locations to contract norovirus if you are a cruiser. 

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Photo Credit: Andrew J Bryson Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

  • Jack

    “The HAL cruise ship fleet is one of the more likely locations to contract norovirus if you are a cruiser. ”

    That’s because the older folks are much, much less likely to wash their hands. I’ve seen it on every cruise I’ve been on. I see it every day in public, including at work. Even my parents.

  • tinikini

    I agree Jack, HAL caters to the older folks. I have noticed it too with my aging parents and the general public as well. On the flip side I have been on two HAL cruises on the Zuiderdam and the Eurodam and came home alive and well both times!! LOL

  • Skip

    I’m not sure if it is true or not that as people get older their personal hygiene diminishes, but it is a fact that as people age, they tend to become more susceptible to infection.

    Since HAL does tend to cater to an older clientele, perhaps this is the reason that their ships seem to have a higher than average incidence of norovirus cases.

    I have been on several HAL cruises and have not been ill on any of them.

  • Toyotaz

    I do agree that the older folks can be a bit set in their ways, but I have been on 8 HAL cruises, and have never been sick on board (Hung over, YES! But not sick) The staff is always walking around with hand sanitizer. Dispensing it whether you want some or not in some cases. They are even more present with it on the pool decks, and at the bars, restaurants, and Casino.
    I am more convinced that 95% of the Gastro outbreaks on HAL are due to over eating, and eating food that is MUCH richer than the bland diets that a lot of these people are used to.
    I will say that I am under 45, and can eat pretty much anything as my stomach is used to quite a variety. That doesn’t mean that I have not had to do a full sprint to the restroom, but again, that was due to a 22oz Porterhouse, with appetizers and dessert! Take some Pepto before you go eat 3X your normal food intake, and this will stop being such issue for HAL. They are actually the cleanest ships I have been on. (Royal Viking, Cunard, Windstar, Celebrity, and Royal)

    I already have the next cruise booked on the Nieuw Amsterdam, and can’t wait to go!

  • John

    I think Mr. Walker needs to get his facts straight. According to the CDC website he posted in 2014, both Royal and Princess had 3 outbreaks, while HAL only had 2. So far this year, HAL has one outbreak while Princess, Royal and Celebrity are in the lead with 2 outbreaks each. When reporters start giving opinions instead of facts I question their professionalism. Sounds like someone is trying get into the pockets of HALs competition by slandering HALs name because of ONE outbreak. A 5 year old could write a more professional, unbiased, factual news report. Move on people, nothing credible to see here.

  • “John” No Last Name & Fake E-Mail Address:

    Ah, another cruise line employee coward.

    You’ve tried to conceal your identity but your internet provider (IP) address reveals that you work for Holland America Line.

    HAL, along with Princess, leads the way for the dirtiest cruise ships and the most worms who leave nasty comments anonymously like you. It may that the ships are so old or just because they are part of the Carnival group.

  • NoroV

    I was on the Maasdam May 1-16 re-positioning cruise from Ft Lauderdale to Montreal. NoroVirus was still there and it knocked down a lot of people. I would guess higher than the 5.8 percent on the previous cruise. CDC will likely post stats next week. Near the end of the cruise, the captain announced that CDC had verified (via stool samples) that it was NoroVirus. If Toyotaz can prove that overeating rich food leads to NoroVirus, I am sure that the CDC would be interested in his research.

  • Mrs. Edgar

    Hogwash John! How dare you blame “older folks” for not washing their hands! I boarded the Maasdam and it was infected with the Norovirus and so did those who boarded after me. The ship was filthy. The dinner menu’s were never sanitized and had food slopped on them as did most of the bowls and dishes we were served. The overall experience was POOR. . Why are the clocks on the Lido deck wrong – because nobody cares. Why isn’t there a scale in the spa that will register a weight at sea? Because some stupid ass put in a digital scale – a manual scale would work, Duh. Tender was an absolute JOKE! I finally had to call 911 to get anybody on the phone, what front desk never answers their phone? Worst cruise ever & never again a HAL, BAD-BAD

  • Jo Anne

    I was one of the 60 passengers that contracted the GI illness on the 24-day Caribbean cruise on the Maasdam. We contacted the front desk the night I got sick. They said they would contact the medical department who, in turn, would contact us. When we got no response by the next day, my husband went to the medical department. The doctor who finally came to our cabin to see me, said he was on call the previous night, but received no message to come to our cabin. He brought some immodium which, at that point, was of little use. I am waiting to hear from a “senior representative” of the cruise line to see why someone dropped the ball. I was restricted to my cabin for three days. I was also on the previous 10-day cruise, so I had a nice 10-day cruise instead of the 24 days I paid for.

  • Leslie

    I just got back from the HAL Masdam cruise May 1-16th and had the Norovirus on day 13 of the cruise. The staff was swabbing the boat with disinfectant all during the time on the boat and I washed my hands all of the time but still got it ( I am not that old either-in my 50’s)). I also agree that while they did disinfect some area’s-some items like the Menu’s and of course the money making casino machines did not get swabbed and were open the entire time at sea to spread the disease while the laundry machine’s were closed as to not spread the disease-no sense to me. So money making is still the bottom line not keeping folks free of a disease while on board. I also believe that there were alot of folks with the noro on this cruise and would like to see the CDC stats when posted.

  • Lorraine

    My husband & I were also on the Maasdam ship for the May1-16th Canada/New England cruise.We knew about 3 or 4 days before the cruise, that the ship had the norovirus on it. HAL sent us an e-mail to say we wouldn’t be able to get on the ship until 6PM instead 4PM. But we actually sat in the Terminal from noon until nearly 7PM!!! If they knew that far ahead of time, why didn’t they arrange to have the transfer bus from our Hotel come at a later time??? We would have been more comfortable there than in the Terminal. They did offer a free transfer bus to a local UPSCALE Mall. Once on the ship you couldn’t touch anything in the shops. The clerks had to show you the items, or gave you gloves to wear, but….as someone else mentioned, you were free to go into the Casino and move from machine to machine at will!!!
    The laundry was closed for the first 8 days, and then they opened things up for 2 days and closed it all down again after 2 days, but….the laundry was left open this time for the rest of the cruise. When going to the buffet, there was a Sanitizer the minute you got off the elevators, and another one just BEFORE going through the door into the buffet. There were NO Sanitizers inside the buffet area at any time during the cruise!!! The whole ship looked dirty for the whole cruise as they were wiping everything down and leaving it to dry. I could go on & on…..We’ll never set foot in that ship again. It needs to be taken out of service and given a thorough sanitizing.

  • Irene

    Interesting though there is plenty of “news” on the Internet regarding the May 1 arrival of the Maasdam in Fort Lauderdale, nowhere can I find mention of the illness continuing on our cruise May 1-May 16. Have heard over 200 were ill, most like true for at any time there were 3-4 people ill in just our corridor on Deck 9. HAL wasn’t very forthcoming with information during the cruise, and there’s nothing out there now.

  • Bob

    On the Maasdam May 1-16 trip, some estimates were 20 to 40% of passengers ill at some time during the two weeks. Talking with neighbors that appeared about right to me. There were also more ill after disembarking – on the planes home and in the destination hotel.
    A problem was that quarantined passengers were often seen wandering the ship or caught in the line to leave on excursions. No penalty for leaving your room. While we were waiting to get on the ship a carry-over passenger from the previous cruise even advised “if you get sick, don’t tell anyone.”

  • Ginny

    My husband and I were both on the repositioning Maasdam cruise referred to, though we boarded on May 3 in Charleston. He became sick on May 9 and I on May 14. We have also been frustrated in efforts to find out any info, CDC numbers, etc. There seemed to us to be huge numbers of people sick with norovirus. My graduate degree is in Adult Education and my last job was as a State Health Educator, so I am well aware of protocols to follow. I can assure you that neither of us was remiss in handwashing nor in use of sanitizers.We also followed all requests re quarantine and even submitted the specimen vial and official forms left when my husband became sick, though the clinic seemed reluctant to accept them. Interestingly, no vial was given when I became sick, near the end of the cruise – perhaps the numbers were too many to deal with by then.
    We did not contact HAL since the cruise, other than an online survey submitted, but have since been offered “$86.++ each toward a future booking” from Guest Relations. My first reaction to “Daphney’s” offer was “Surely she jests.” The future cruise notion is moot – I would be much more interested in having some statistics re the completed HAL cruise. None seem forthcoming.This offer was an acknowledgment of our “inconvenience” – compounded by the three flights to get home (also set up by HAL, which had been two flights when we originally booked but morphed into three before embarkation.)We had had good cruises with HAL before but no more.
    As to the very declasse remarks left in three of the first four postings here, my observation of this and previous cruises has been that the senior cruisers are well-traveled, well-educated, and sophisticated in tastes and palate in ways that would preclude their gorging themselves at meals or failing to follow cleanliness protocols.Perhaps more so than some younger cruisers.
    We will be interested if any more data becomes available.

  • Christine Griffon

    My husband and I, along with some friends sailed on the Maasdam from Ft. Lauderdale to Montreal. We departed on May 1, 2015 and arrived in Montreal on May 16, 2015. Our friends became ill during the second week. HAL was not at all forthcoming as to the number of sick passengers & crew and depending upon whom you asked, you would get a different answer. My husband became violently ill as we left the ship on May 16th and was vomiting in the airport and on the plane all the way back to Orlando. Who knows how many people he infected? My husband had such a bad case of the Norovirus, he wound up in the hospital with dehydration and developed pneumonia as a secondary infection. We are in our 60’s and washed and sanitized our hands all day long. When you have 1200 people packed into very tight quarters for 2 weeks and the ship is already infected with the Norovirus, what does HAL think is going to happen? The ship should have been taken out of commission for 24 to 48 hours and properly sanitized and disinfected. I can find no evidence of this outbreak being reported to CDC nor to Canadian officials. Don’t you think Canada would want to know about a vessel coming into their ports riddled with an infectious disease? HAL ONLY cares about their profits and does not give a damn about their employees or passengers. I have been in contact with HAL and received a very lovely “non-response” from Connor Nagan and I am still waiting to hear from “the appropriate senior management”. It appears that unless the ship is sailing into an American port with a certain percentage of sick passengers & crew, the ship does not have to report the incident. Seems like this would like a lot of under reporting of infectious diseases on cruise ships! The Maasdam also ran out of Imodium and gloves during our cruise. The lower decks constantly smelled like and open sewer line. It was disgusting.

  • John

    My wife and I both came down with the virus the last week of this cruise, we are 4 star mariners, and very experienced, as a result we missed the last four days and two of the best ports. Holland America has since offered us a credit of $266.00 towards our next cruise, not nearly adequate for our discomfort and lost cruise days. CDC has not adequately investigated this incident, we were advised by a senior staff member on the ship that over 200 cases were experienced on this cruise, May 1st through the 15th.

  • Interesting


    Current containment strategies may need adjusting, research suggests

    By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
    Wednesday, May 6, 2015

    WEDNESDAY, May 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Noroviruses — those notorious stomach bugs that have infected scores of people and ruined countless cruise ship vacations — can spread through the air and infect people several feet away, according to new research.

    These findings suggest that current safety precautions implemented to control noroviruses may not be enough. The study also helps explain why outbreaks of the illness are difficult to contain, the researchers said.

    “The measures applied in hospital settings are only designed to limit direct contact with infected patients,” the study’s leader, Caroline Duchaine, a professor at Universite Laval’s Faculty of Science and Engineering in Quebec, Canada, said in a university news release.

    “In light of our results, these rules need to be reviewed to take into account the possibility of airborne transmission of noroviruses. Use of mobile air-filtration units or the wearing of respiratory protection around patients with gastroenteritis are measures worth testing,” Duchaine said.

    Noroviruses are responsible for about 50 percent of cases of gastroenteritis — a condition commonly called “stomach flu.” But, the flu virus isn’t actually involved in this illness at all.

    Gastroenteritis occurs when the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed by a virus, bacteria or parasite, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever.

    The new study was conducted at eight hospitals and long-term care facilities involved in an norovirus outbreak. Researchers collected air samples about three feet away from patients with the illness. They tested areas such as by the door of patient rooms and at nursing stations.

    Airborne noroviruses were identified at six of the eight facilities included in the study. These germs were found in 54 percent of the sick patients’ rooms. They were also found in 38 percent of the hallways leading to these rooms and at 50 percent of the nursing stations.

    Concentrations of the virus ranged from 13 to 2,350 particles per cubic meter of air. The study authors pointed out that a dose of just 20 norovirus particles is usually enough to infect someone.

    The study was published online recently in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.


  • moreen lipman

    Interesting . I have just returned from a Seattle to Sydney Repositioning cruise on the Maasdam which is the 3rd HAL ship I have cruised on , others previously. Other than people catching a few colds which I would put down to some already carrying the germs onboard and the airconditioning helping the spread , no-one came down with anything more serious that I heard . I found the care of the crew with cleanliness was great . My concern was the number of people who didn’t sanitise their hands coming back on board after a port day , going to any of the food areas , or after touching rails, chairs, lift buttons etc . Dare I mention toilets and doors? People seem to forget it is a small predominately enclosed place not their home and must take responsibility for their own actions . Sanitisers are everywhere but ignored . I will be cruising with HAL again .