A passenger sailing on a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship near Greece contacted me today, stating that a number of guests are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms:
"I’m currently on MS Veendam. Left Fort Lauderdale on October 20th and due to return to Fort Lauderdale on December 8th. Currently docked in Souda, Greece. Leaving at 5:00 pm less than an hour from now. Souda port terminal has WiFi.
Noro started about four days ago. We did pick up passengers in Barcelona and some of them are sick now and seem to have gotten sick shortly after boarding from what I understand. One day there were 29 passengers and two crew sick . . . Yesterday … only four new cases and no crew sick anymore.
Ship is cleaning, isolating and taking precautions including not allowing passengers to handle food which is good."
It is currently unknown whether the gastrointestinal outbreak is in fact due to norovirus (or-coli or some other more exotic virus) because there will be no testing of the affected passenger’s stools.
In the last week, we have written about GI outbreaks which included the Crown Princess, which called on a U.S. port and had to report the outbreak to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Anthem of the Seas was experienced a similar outbreak affected many dozens of guests (around 100 people). The Anthem did not meet the percentage of guests who reported their symptoms to the ship infirmary, and therefore there is no official CDC report. The Celebrity Solstice was also reportedly hit with an aggressive GI outbreak while sailing around Australia, according to news accounts.
Holland America Line experienced 18 cases of GI sicknesses reported to the CDC since 2010. Only Princess Cruises suffered more norovirus/GI cases which were reported to the CDC during this time period. HAL suffered norovirus outbreaks on the Nieuw Amsterdam, and two outbreaks each on the Volendam and the Noordam this year.
Cruise ships on non-U.S. itineraries do not have to report GI outbreaks.
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Photo credit: Fletcher6 – CC BY 3.0, commons / wikimedia.