An unsettling development occurring on the Disney Wonder cruise ship was brought to our attention this morning. There has been an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) which exceeds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) percentage (3%) of affected passengers and crew members.

The cruise ship still has two more days to finish its current cruise. The next cruise is the "14 Night Panama Canal: cruise which leaves from Miami headed for San Diego, California. 

There was an emergency meeting in the dining room, where crew members were informed that about 99 guests and 10 crew were ill with AGE. (The official report from the CDC estimates that there were 92 of 2679 (3.43%) passenger and 5 of 991 (0.5%) of crew members affected).

A sign was posted for the crew informing them that there is a high level of outbreaks over 3% of passengers"and crews sick on the ship. The Disney Wonder has a capacity of around 2,400 passengers and 945 crew members. This will result in the crew members working longer hours to try and sanitize the ship before the next round of families and kids embarkthe cruise ship in Miami on May 1st.

There have been 9 prior outbreaks on cruise ships calling on U.S. ports this year.  Disney is one of the few cruise lines which do not routinely suffer from gastrointestinal outbreaks. 

Have a thought?  Please join the discussion on our Facebook page.

The Disney Cruiseline Blog contains a copy of an email sent to future cruisers on the upcoming cruise.

May 2 2016 Update: The Sun Sentinel, the first major newspaper to report on the outbreak, picks up the story – Nearly 100 sickened on Disney Wonder cruise ship

May 3 2016 Update:  Gobal Dispatch says that "health officials now put the total cases at 145, 131 of 2680 passengers onboard and 14 of 991 crew members" 

  • Jo Brown

    We had 3 people out of 24 employees in our office sick with this last week.
    Key suggestion…Don’t go to work ….or……a cruise and any Public place when you are sick!
    Stay Home so the rest of the World doesn’t get Sick!! Thank you!

  • Jane St Onge

    We were part of the passengers affected. My son got it first on the second night and we were told to stay in our room for 24 hours. At the 24 hour mark my daughter started vomiting and we were told to remain in our room for the remainder of the cruise. I am extremely disappointed that we were not contacted by a Disney representative during the cruise to discuss reimbursement. We were unable to leave our room for over 1/2 of the cruise. I will expect full reimbursement. This was our first cruise as a family after traveling to Disney world and Disney land for the past 5 years. My children expressed numerous times they wanted to get off the ship and never want to do a cruise again. They have scarred their memories with this horrific event. Shame on you Disney.

  • Paula Rasmussen

    I’m sorry your first cruise was so terrible. But I’ve shared this with other Disney Facebook group members and as for me I have never heard of a Disney outbreak like this. It has always been the Disney Difference for making us chose them. We too had been in isolation one one cruise for the first 24 hrs but it was due to boarding with a fever during the flu concerns in 2012 I believe. You had to confirm any illness or refer in the last 48 hrs. We Chris yes and we’d seen by a doctor prior to boarding. Our daughter only got the fever during the night in the Orlando airport hotel. We need thought much about it but it didn’t leave her. I was starting to feel ill our last night so returned to our room early. Slept on the plane ride home and then slept for about 36hrs once I was home. It was awful. Having said that I hope Disney will somehow compensate those affected and possibly your son had caught the virus prior to boarding. There have been many reports of sickness everywhere. A cruise just gets the worst of it due to confined areas. I hope your children will give Disney another chance.

  • Patrick Murphy

    My son contracted it first and was puking on day two. My daughter caught it on day three. We completely understand that people get sick but the way it was handle was awful. Unqualified people working the infirmary. The gloves the crew wore, were only for their protection not ours. Gloves were not changed if they came in contact with a passenger they continued wearing the gloves, possibly passing the virus off to others. Dirty vomit bags taken and new ones passed out with out changing gloves

    As for the number, 100 is no were near correct. I myself witnessed the infirmary turn away three people who came down and said they had it two days earlier but because they were not symptomatic they were told they were good and just continue to hydrate. I would not doubt they were closer to 10 percent or higher.

  • Ian macpherson

    We’ve sailed almost 30 times. 13 on Disney. Disney takes the most precautions of the ships we’ve sailed. It’s not the Cruise lines fault. I’ve watched on many of our cruises that there quite a feature passengers who don’t use the hand wipes etc. Then either touch something or sneeze on the food in buffet. The ship can’t control that. Unfortunately for your family you just happen to be one of the unfortunate ones.

  • Jane St Onge

    I take insult to the comment we just happen to be the affected ones. We spent thousands of dollars on this cruise and were perfectly healthy when we boarded. This was not an incident of 1 or 2 people getting ill. It was at minimum the numbers Disney release but I also witnessed several people being turned away because they were not actively vomiting. I agree gloves were not changed. I witnessed this also as well as sitting amongst people visiting around us and bags being swapped out and no gloves changed. My children have shared now numerous times they never want to cruise again. We have also yet to be contacted by a Disney representative to discuss reimbursement which I expect in full.

  • NewYork Pax

    This was our first cruise of any kind, so to go through such an outbreak was pretty frustrating. My wife was vomiting late during our first night on board, but when we called the health center to report it they said don’t worry about it unless other symptoms occur. We’re not sure they even recorded it. Then on Day 3 my 7 yr old son got the virus bad and was puking and having bathroom issues all day. He had to stay in our cabin as he simply wasn’t well enough to do anything else. By that point the rumors were that well over 100 kids alone were sick. It would not surprise me if 10% of the ship was down based on empty seats at dinners.

    When I took my son to the health center to report it and see what to do, they just gave us some gatorade and a freezie and said come back only if it doesn’t stop. Never even saw a doctor or gave a sample.

    Meanwhile, by Day 2 everyone had started to figure out what was going on because the self service stations had become staffed stations, and when asked the crew said “oh, we’re just providing you a higher level of service”. The buffet changed to no-touch, and staff were giving everyone wipes at the entry to all main rooms. The pools kept closing every few hours for disinfecting due to “accidental release”. Still, no announcement was made until the morning of Day 3 about a health problem on board. And yes, the other comments are correct in that the staff all wore gloves but never changed them even when they touched passengers’ hands.

    When we disembarked, no mention of “sorry” or anything else was said, it was just a normal departure. I called the cruise customer service line and was told to email them that we were affected and to await “next steps”.

    Not a great way to experience a first cruise. Was this the worst GI outbreak on a Disney ship ever?

  • EJ

    I became violently ill on the evening on day 2 and spent all night in and out of bathroom. My daughter fell ill early into the morning as well. Since the sick bay was so inundated with people we didn’t get to be seen till around 2:00. My husband took my daughter down to sick bay first while I stayed in cabin still sick. She came back with some power ace and had received a antiemetic medicine injection. My husband then took myself down to sick bay. There were a few other people there with same symptoms. I saw the doctor and received an injection as well to ease the vomiting and given some powerade. Since the medicine makes you sleepy my daughter and I pretty much spent the whole rest of the day/night sleeping.
    There’s MUCH more to tell but too much to get into now. What really made this a not so disney experience is that no one wanted to take ownership of the problem. It was made to seem like it was our fault(passengers in general) that we brought it on board and were inconveniencing them and causing more work. The talk around ship was that we possibly caugt it at the private island, but if someone was sick the first night then that’s not the case because the private island wasn’t until day 2.
    Only the people that reported symptoms were quarantined. If this was a “virus” and not food poisoning like they were playing it off to be everyone in the cabin and in direct contact would’ve been quarantined…not in this case. My other family members who were not sick were free to go and come as they pleased.
    Disgusting experience hearing about people puking in elevators and hallways and even saw puke when we were disembarking and going through customs! NEVER CRUISING AGAIN!!

  • Jennifer

    @NewYork Pax….this virus supposedly shows symptoms 24-48 hours after initial contact. This means your wife would’ve come in contact 24-48 hours before initial sail date. Maybe she was the one who brought the virus on board? Yes, we were on the ship at the same time. The efforts Disney cruise line and its employees put forth to protect themselves and us cruising was phenomenal. I guarantee, it was due to there efforts alone that kept the ‘virus’ at bay and from it spreading ship wide.

  • Jeremy Millard

    This outbreak didn’t start on the boat. People are lazy and don’t fill out the papers accordingly to get on the boat. When Disney shut down self service people still tried to have crewmembers fill their personal water bottles. The crewmembers told them I can fill a cup you can fill your cup. The people were rude disgusted and selfish. With the way the Disney cruise line crew was trying to conduct their safety for everybody on board . Also the pools were shut down due to parents not taking care of their kids. So this effect costed everybody else onboard not to be able to use the pool for at least five hours Disney did their job and people on board should do with their job ! Thanks my family had a great time .ps we wil be back all 9 of us.

  • Robert Hejl

    There really isn’t anyone to “blame”, except those parents who didn’t teach their children proper sanitary precautions. Having worked in a school district for over 30 years, I know how easily this type of thing can be prevented. PARENTS…. teach your kids how to wash their hands properly after using the bathroom and cover their mouths when they sneeze.

  • Susan Lyles

    Let me first start by saying that I am truly sorry your first cruising experience with Disney was like this. However this was in no way Disney’s fault. You mentioned that your wife began throwing up the evening that you boarded the ship. The servers as a sure indicator that your family was one of the ones that came onto the ship sick. The incubation period for a G.I. bug is at a minimum 18 to 24 hours. This means that your wife was sick when you boarded the ship. A G.I. bug can spread extremely quickly in and especially in confined spaces where there are 3000 people. It sounds to me like Disney did a very good job in containing the outbreak. I’m not really sure why you feel you are entitled to a refund. It would be no different than if your family had gotten sick prior to cruising and would’ve had to cancel your trip. They would not have reimbursed you in this case either. This is what insurance is for my friend. It amazes me how ignorant people are when it comes to things like this. Disney did not make you sick nor did Disney ruin your trip. It was a matter that was out of their control. You’re not owed anything, and you should’ve been smarter about planning for emergencies that may occur. Perhaps next time do more research before you board cruise line, because they are all are the same when it comes to this type of thing.

  • New York Pax

    Always nice to post a comment and then get blamed, so this will be my last on this site. Norovirus can incubate in 12 hours (wife was sick well after that period), though she never had other syptoms so could have been unrelated food poisoning in her case. Son washes hands religiously, whow knows how he gor it when my other child and I never did. And I never said “refund”, I just would have liked for them to have been more honest with passengers as to the crisis instead of telling the staff to lie about “increasing service”, and maybe say sorry once.

  • New York Pax

    After further reflection this morning, my wife (who is a doctor, by the way) tells me I am over-dramatizing, that she had food poisoning and not norovirus (which is why the health center didn’t see her) and that Disney did the best they could in keeping everyone informed. So I guess it was just an unfortunate experience. Sorry for inflaming things with my frustration – no one likes this kind of situation.

  • Sherri

    I was on the Carnival Liberty March 6 ,2016-March 18, 2016. During night 2 of our cruise I became violently ill with whatever the virus of the week was. During this cruise there were so many sick people. We even got more disinfectant from another ship. They were washing down everything everywhere. But I do not see our ship/cruise listed on the list on the CDC website referenced here. Our cruise was clearly over the 3% level. Just makes you wonder how many cruise don’t get reported and make the list. And then people board the same day sick people get off the ship. No wonder it just keeps spreading and spreading….

  • Bob IGOR

    According to the Disneyleaks website, the next voyage embarked the same day the infected voyage came back to shore.

  • Shawne Rogers

    Our grandson got sick the night of the 28th (after Castaway Cay). We assumed it was food poisoning so we also did not go to medical. We later learned that a mother and son from our dining table got sick, went to medical, and said that 150 people were waiting in medical. It was apparent the next couple days that it was a virus as people were still getting sick. It makes sense that the virus was the Norovirus that has a gestation period of four hours to two days and can survive on surfaces such as fruit (of which my grandson ate quite a bit of on Castaway Cay).

    On the 29th, a phone message was left on our phone basically blaming the passengers for being careless and Disney had done everything possible to prevent this outbreak. That was very insulting. They never took responsibility for possibly serving tainted food that started the virus. How do 150 people (or even 97 as they claim) get sick without a source such as a food product or infected server?

    I also vomited seven times on the night of the 30th. And was miserable the whole way home. Not reported. I am frustrated with Disney because there was no mention of credit or compensation for our suffering.

  • Carrie M DOOLY

    There is actually a shigella outbreak going on. This is not a regular gastrointestinal issue. It is a highly contagious bacterial infection. If you are still experiencing any symptoms take a stool sample to the Dr to be tested. It can last for months if not treated. It has a violent cycle, you are sick, you feel better, then you are sick again. …over and over again. I pray that all who are effected feel better and that Disney got the ship cleaned and sterilized. I hope that Disney and the passengers can overcome this outbreak.

  • MS81

    For everyone blaming people aboard the ship, that is ridiculous. This was clearly food borne. If there is a stomach virus within miles, I get it. I was on this cruise with my husband and two young children (who were sharing food and drinks). Only my son became ill, and he was VIOLENTLY ill. This was from the food, and it was from the Disney island. Im very happy for those of you who did not get sick, but if it was your small child who became that ill and was treated the way mine was in the “health center” you would be singing a much different tune.

  • tinikini

    I have often wondered how safe the food is on the “private islands”. While I have not been to Disney’s island I have been to Holland America’s island twice. None of us were sick, but you have to wonder how well the food is handled and transported off of the ships. How it is held…cold or hot. I am in the food service business so I pay attention to things probably more than most, and stay away from things that could be dangerous. It is always going to be a gamble when you leave the US. I have had noro, it ain’t pretty. You feel like you are dying or wish you would. Sorry to all who were ill, especially the little ones.

  • Sick Passenger
  • Rosa Cruz

    It was our first Disney cruise with our grandkids on Disney wonder from April 27- May 1 2016. We had high expectation since we have heard such great reviews by friends. Little did we know that this was going on, on the second day at dinner my grandson complained of belly pain, soon after he threw up this was at the dining room, I was concerned that he was see sick, he continued to throw up, her had on the bracelet to avoid sea sickness. So we went to bed. The next day my granddaughter became friends with a little girl by the pool who’s mom was sick in her room, later that day my granddaughter became ill as well, never were we told by anyone what was going on. This trip was for them and it was a short trip to spend it sick in a room. Truly disappointed I would expect a total trying refund

    This was a totally mishandled by Disney cruise