The first norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship calling on a U.S. port this year has been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And, no surprise to anyone that follows cruise ship outbreaks, it involved a Princess Cruises cruise ship. 

The Crown Princess just returned to Los Angeles following a two week cruise from January 3 – 18, 2016. 180 of the 3,060 passengers (5,88 %) aboard the cruise ship were sick with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. 24 of 1,168 crew members (2.05%) became ill with gastrointestinal symptoms which the CDC confirmed were due to norovirus.  You can read the CDC report here.

During the six year period from 2010 to the current date, Princess Cruises experienced the most Princess Cruise Ship Norovirus Outbreaknorovirus outbreaks on its cruise ships calling on a U.S. port, according to the CDC. Princess reported nineteen (19) cases to the CDC during this time period. Carnival cruise lines reported just two (2) cases during the same time period.  

Celebrity Cruises reported 15 cases (and Royal Caribbean reported 9).  HAL also reported a high nummber (12) during the 2010 to 2016 time period.

Cunard reported 4; NCL -3; Oceania – 3; and Crystal – 2.  

The Crown Princess alone has suffered through five (5) norovirus outbreaks since 2010 to the present. Before the current outbreak, the last outbreak on the Crown Princess was from October 18 to November 16, 2014. Prior to that, it was February 5 to 12, 2014. It also experienced back-to-back outbreaks from January 29 to February 4, 2012 and February 4 to February 9, 2012 (photo above).

The Crown Princess alone experienced two and one-half time more norovirus outbreaks that the entire fleet of Carnival cruise lines from 2010 to the present!

So why is Princess Cruises far more prone to norovirus outbreaks than Carnival cruise lines, for example?

The cruise industry always blames the passengers for bringing the virus aboard, rather than its food handlers, or contaminated food or water. So are Princess Cruises customers the sickest and the least hygienic cruisers around? Do they wash their hands the least of any cruisers?  That seems like a absurd argument to make.

Is there a correlation between the age of the cruise ships and gastrointestinal outbreaks?  Are different food sources and food handling techniques a more reasonable explanation?  How about different sanitation procedures?  I’m not sure. The CDC doesn’t have time to determine the source of the norovirus outbreak (sick food handlers versus contaminated food or water or a sick passenger) so it is of no help.  

But blaming the passengers when one cruise line (and one cruise ship in particular) has far more gastrointestinal outbreaks than its competitors is certainly not the answer.  

  • Sabrina Mowery

    Just got back from a 4 day cruise Jan 18- Jan 22 on the Crown Princess. This is my second time on this ship and I believe there is something wrong with the ventilation. It’s the only ship I get on and start sneezing after a day or two. Also, it was extremely hot around the Horizon Buffet area and heat is known to increase pathogens. I will not sail on this ship again. We are looking into other cruise lines for future cruises.

  • JR

    I was on this cruise. It was a10 day cruise.
    January 8th to January 18th. The norovirus outbreak
    around the 13th and lasted the remainder of the cruise. I knew being served at the buffet starting on the 13th 0f January meant Norovirus had started. It was still a great cruise with some inconvenience.

  • GR

    Just got back from the 4 day cruise Jan 18- Jan 22 on the Crown Princess. This was my first time sailing on the Crown and there were 8 of us in our group. On disembarkation day, I got sick as well as one of the others in my group. Prior to disembarkation, everyone was fine. I never ate at the Horizon Court. Only ate in the Grill first night and then late seated dining the other nights.

  • Steve

    4/9/16 through 4/16/16 Mexican Rivera cruise on the Crown Princess. Outbreak of 85 I believe. That kept them under the 2% so I’m sure it was unreported. Simply guessing here but I’m pretty sure these smaller outbreaks probably occur more frequently than we know.

  • Poor hand hygiene is a major cause of the spread of this virus. It is also transferred in an aerosol form when vomiting occurs. It can exist in on surfaces, in vents, food, etc for long periods of time. Prevention is key and hand hygiene is the first line of defense. People don’t wash their hands. Now technology and data exists that tracks, reminds and insures that people do the right thing. It is a small investment that cruise ships, food preparer, hospitals, etc need to make. Check out the website.

  • Tyler branham

    I got Nora virus on a one week carnival cruise and was quarantinedoing to my room and let me tell you it was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. And I’m sure no one reported it

  • Patty

    I was on Crown Princess May 13,2016 from Vancouver to Alaska and got the worst flu the morning of return to Vancouver. I am an RN & a diligent hand washer. I did report flu symptoms sore throat,fever,cough,runny nose to Princess Cruiselines. They said they don’t take reports. So I’m writing it here. Cover your mouth when you cough & sneeze, wash your hands, wear a mask if your sick or run down & take Care.

  • Cruiser Guy

    Just back from Alaskan cruise on Crown Princess – guess what I have?? Norovirus!!! You can clean surfaces I guess, but can’t get rid of the infected staff passing this from week to week.

  • Gail Grooms

    Had a wonderful 11 day Scandinavian/Russia cruise 5/22/16 to 6/3/16 UNTIL…..the bus was taking us to Copenhagen airport – the bus was hot – I started vomiting for no reason and also had diarrhea at the same time. Long story short I eventually was taken by ambulance to a Denmark hospital for tests and IV’s. Obviously we missed our plane home and had to spend the night, at which I had several more episodes of vomiting – even as we left our hospital room the next morning to catch a flight home! I asked all the medical staff if I had norovirus but they didn’t respond. I was very sick and weak for over a week after returning to the USA. I had gone to my doctor BEFORE the trip to make sure I was in good health as I am normally a very very healthy person. So what happened? I truly believe the breakfast I had on the ship before leaving for the airport was spoiled or contaminated. We were on the Regal Princess. Did anyone else have a similar problem that I believe was the norovirus? I am waiting to hear what the Princess Cruise Lines has to say about this as we struggled to get reservations – and paid premium for these reservations home…………

  • John Croft

    I was on the Regal Princess from a 11 day cruise until May 23, 2016. Two days after returning home I became sick and spent 21 days in the Cleveland clinic. The physicians all said I had gotten the norovirus on the cruise.