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Thread: Norovirus - Are Cruise Ships Safe?

  1. #1
    CruiseLineFans Officer/Administrator Cruise Planner's Avatar
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    Norovirus - Are Cruise Ships Safe?

    We get asked this question all the time, especially this time of year. People who have never cruised before are very concerned about getting sick because of what they hear on the news. Unfortunately, as usual, the press does not present the whole picture, so people are left with only part of the story.

    Here's an interesting graph;



    Believe it or not, of all these places where norovirus is most common, the only one required to report it to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) are the cruise lines! And yet, as you can see, they represent one of the smallest section of the graph.

    There was a story on the news a few weeks ago and they did a study to see where people going to a restaurant would pick up the most germs. They checked the tables, chairs, toilets, door handles, etc. What was interesting is where they found the most germs and it was where most people would not think about; the menus! Everything else is usually wiped down on a regular basis, but no one thinks to wipe down the menus or thinks much about handling them.

    So the moral of the story was that after sitting down, handling the menu, and ordering your meal, you should wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer before picking up that piece of bread.

    Another thing that was interesting is that they said it takes approximately 1800 germs to get the flu but only takes 18 germs to get the norovirus. (I could be off slightly on those numbers, but I think that's pretty close.) They also said a flu germ only lasts on the surface for a couple of hours, but a norovirus germ can last a couple of weeks. Nasty stuff this norovirus.

    But as is usually pointed out, it's the second most common bug that we get, next to the common cold. Alot of people are scared to go on a cruise because of what they read in the press about people getting it on ships. But as I said earlier, cruise lines are the only ones required to report it to the CDC. Yet it's more common on airplanes, malls, hospitals, schools, buses, subways, elevators, etc. and none of these places are required to report it. When was the last time you saw someone disinfecting the handrail on the escalator at your local mall? Yet you always see them wiping down handrails on a ship.

    Bottom line is, wash your hands constantly. It's really is the best and easiest prevention. Don't touch surfaces and then touch your mouth or eyes. Carry a small container of hand sanitizer to use when you can't wash your hands. Use sanitizer on shared items such as phones, keyboards, etc.

    But don't stop thinking about a cruise because of the norovirus. Personally, I'd be more aware of problems in other public areas that aren't constantly being cleaned.

    Pete

    Awarded American Express Vacations 2013 GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD!! (Best of the best!)
    Pete & Nancy Peterson, Land & Cruise Specialists
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  2. #2
    CLF Navigator cruisin' chick's Avatar
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    On the eleven cruises I've been on, I haven't heard about any outbreaks of noro. My teen told us during the last one that there seemed to be a cold going around.

    Fortunately the worst any of our family have had was due to allergies (both times in Puerto Vallerta I seemed to had an allergic reaction to something there -- and both times there was trash being burnt, so we figured that was the problem). Last month, I had a sinus headache for the first few days, which may have been due to variations in air pressure. Was fine the rest of the cruise.

    The news stories about the current stomach virus that's going around include the advice to wash one's hands a lot. A good ideas whether there's something going around or not. My father, who was a physician, was always telling us to wash fruit and if about to open a can, to wash the top off before taking the can opener to it.
    Patty, Family & So. Calif. Guide
    Jubilee - Mex Riv. 1/94, Sensation - W. Car. 11/94, Holiday (the preggers cruise) - Baja Calif. 3/97, Holiday - Baja Calif. 7/99, Paradise - E. Carib. 3/01, Ecstacy - Baja 6/02, Star Princess - Mex. Riv. 2/03, Sapphire Princess - Alaska 8/04, Island Princess - Hawaii 12/05-1/06, Golden Princess - Hawaii 12/10-1/11, Golden Princess - Hawaii 12/12-1/13

  3. #3
    CLF Navigator Krazy Kruizers's Avatar
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    We have been on quite a few ships that had the Noro Virus when we got on and stayed in Code Red for days and days. And we have been on ships when the Noro Virus broke out and we went into Code Red.

    And it doesn't make any difference what season -- we have had it in the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada/New England, full transit of the Panama Canal.

    And now the health department is sayng that there is a different, stronger strain of the Noro Virus.
    CLF Navigator - if you need help for Holland America -- ask me -- Yonnie
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    Stopped counting after 110 cruises.

  4. #4
    Almighty Cruiser tonylinsdell's Avatar
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    That is a good point about the menus. Our Queen Mary 2 cruise had had a Noro before we boarded so our boarding was delayed till cleaning was done and then for the next few days there were precautions ( code red I guess) at dinner we were discussing them. Someone commented what about the chair arms we touch when getting up. At the end of the meal we say another table being cleared ( I think we were always last to leave talking too long). Sure enough they wiped down the arms of the chairs.
    We never thought about the menus though. Maybe they were wiped down without us knowing ?










  5. #5
    CLF Navigator cruisin' chick's Avatar
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    When hubby got home from work tonight, he said that one of his workers felt iffy the other day and got checked out by the paramedics (an advantage to working in the emergency services building). He stayed home today. Hubby is hoping the guy had food poisoning rather than the stomach flu as the latter might mean everyone at work's going to come down with it.
    Patty, Family & So. Calif. Guide
    Jubilee - Mex Riv. 1/94, Sensation - W. Car. 11/94, Holiday (the preggers cruise) - Baja Calif. 3/97, Holiday - Baja Calif. 7/99, Paradise - E. Carib. 3/01, Ecstacy - Baja 6/02, Star Princess - Mex. Riv. 2/03, Sapphire Princess - Alaska 8/04, Island Princess - Hawaii 12/05-1/06, Golden Princess - Hawaii 12/10-1/11, Golden Princess - Hawaii 12/12-1/13

  6. #6
    CLF Officer nealberk's Avatar
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    Having had noro on Holland America what bothered me most was the way certain practices were paid lip service, others were carried to the extreme, and some obvious things we're ignored . Check my blog on this cruise from hell. Anyway, I too think the cruiselines are getting a bad rap on this. Your drawing is perfect Pete!

  7. #7
    Pro-Cruiser beth n rod's Avatar
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    Cruise ships are NOT safe from this. We have been on 3 cruises as a family. The last one we went on was Princess, but it was not their fault. We were in Jamaica, on Christmas day and in a taxi ( bus style) heading back to the ship. The driver picked up a man who was sick as a dog. he was coughing all over everything. The most senior member of our party was sick within 48 hours, and the rest of us followed with 24-36 of that. Luckily it was toward the end of the cruise. We were escorted rather rapidly off the ship, PASSED customs without a second glance. The crew came in right behind us to fumigate and sterilize our room for the next cruise. It DOES happen. We are cruising again this winter. We will take precautions we didn't before.....that virus is serious. The most senior member of our party, who had it the worst, had a very serious bleeding ulcer within 4-6 months of it as I recall, and he says he could feel the damage being done to his GI tract. We nearly lost him. So, be germaphobes. Take hand sanitizer. Take your vitamins. And be mindful in public. Watch the health reports.
    Licensed to Chill
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    and Rod (gem of a guy)



  8. #8
    CLF Officer nealberk's Avatar
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    As you noted, it is not the cruiselines but inconsiderate people who cause the problems. The cruise lines have people sign a statement that they are not sick, but they cannot enforce it.
    beth n rod likes this.

  9. #9
    CruiseLineFans Officer/Administrator Cruise Planner's Avatar
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    Whenever people tell me that they would never go on a cruise because of the problems with norovirus, I always laugh at them because they have no idea what they're talking about. My first question to them is always the same; when was the last time you saw anyone in the mall cleaning the hand railing on the escalator? After thinking about it for a second, I always get the same answer; never. Exactly! But I'm always seeing staff on the ship cleaning the hand railings.

    While we're not 'germaphobes', we do make sure we take extra precaution when in crowded situations, especially at the airport, where you have people from all over the world coming together. We're constantly washing our hands and using hand sanitizers. But on the ship, we'll take the normal precautions and luckily (knock on wood), we've never gotten sick in 46 cruises.

    And I will say that the chances of getting the norovirus are relatively small when you consider how many people actually got it last year out of the 17 million who cruised. And in our 46 cruises, we've never heard or seen anyone being guaranteed on our ship, but we did see one ship being denied entry into port because they had an outbreak. And our clients have also been very lucky as in 12 years of taking care of 2800 clients (figure somewhere around 4000 cruises), we've only had about 3 of them report getting the norovirus.

    People should be more concerned about getting sick from other sources than they are from getting sick on a ship because cruise lines take this very seriously and are constantly trying to protect the passengers, which I cannot say the same about any other place we go where there's alot of people.

    Pete

    Awarded American Express Vacations 2013 GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD!! (Best of the best!)
    Pete & Nancy Peterson, Land & Cruise Specialists
    Open 9:00am to 1:00am EST 7-days a week!! ---- 703-858-9898 ---- 866-786-7926
    www.storybookcruises.com ---- dreams@storybookcruises.com

  10. #10
    CLF Officer nealberk's Avatar
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    Pete, the number of people getting sick in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools is so much higher but nobody seems to worry about those cases. Maybe because they are not required to be reported like cruise ships have to do?

    I got Noro and while HAL made mistakes, overall they did do a lot of things correctly. First, they put me in quarentine. Then they had special team come into the room to clean it after I was pronounced well.

    What did they do wrong? They let me use regular dinnerware with my meals and did not seem to do anything special when they took the food out. Second, they let me rent DVDs and did not appear to clean them at all when they were returned. Finally, even though I was quarentined, Deb was allowed to roam free.
    Last edited by nealberk; 10-29-2013 at 07:28 PM.

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