Norovirus Outbreak Hits Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Scores of passenger and crew members on Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas became sick this past week while on a 4 night cruise to Key West and the Bahamas.  There were 66 reported cases of the norovirus illness with all but 2 of them being passengers on board.

The Majesty of the Seas stopped in the ports of Key West, Florida, Nassau, and the cruise line’s private island in the Bahamas, CocoCay.  The ship arrived back in Port of Miami on Friday morning.  There were 3,300 passengers and crew members on board the ship at the time of the outbreak.

The norovirus is easily spread on cruise ships with the tight confines of the vessels.  Affects of the illness are generally vomiting and diarrhea and it usually lasts between 24-72 hours.  The 64 passengers and the 2 crew members affected were given over the counter medication that had positive results the cruise line stated.

Royal Caribbean said that an enhanced cleaning took place after the ship returned to port to help keep the virus from spreading.   The cruise terminal was also cleaned and sanitized in the extensive cleaning.

The Majesty was able to leave port on Friday evening for a 3 night weekend cruise to the Bahamas.   Passengers were asked if they had any gastrointestinal illnesses in the previous 72 hours.  Royal Caribbean let passengers who were uncomfortable cruising on that voyage the chance to reschedule their cruise.

The best ways to keep the norovirus from spreading on cruise ships is to wash your hands before and after you eat.  It is also a good idea to wash your hands before and after you leave your cabin and to stay away from the buffet.  While cruise ships do have hand sanitizer available, it does little to stop viruses like the norovirus and often gives a false hope of cleanliness to passengers.

The norovirus affects nearly 20 million Americans each year and results in 500-800 deaths.

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