According to a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention , 17% (153 out of 917) of the passengers on board the Balmoral have reported getting sick on the current voyage. The Balmoral is a cruise ship operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Line in the U.K. An additional six crew members (out of 518) also reported ill during the cruise.
Passengers and crew members who were still showing symptoms of the norovirus were in quarantine when the ship docked at the scheduled stop in Norfolk, Virginia.
When the ship arrives in Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday, two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers and an epidemiologist will board the vessel to conduct an environmental health assessment. They will also evaluate the outbreak and response activities by the cruise line.
In response to the outbreak, Fred Olsen Cruises and the crew members reported the following actions:
- Increased cleaning and disinfection procedures.
- Collected stool specimens from passengers and crew members (Results tested positive for norovirus).
- Multiple daily reports of illness cases to the VSP.
- Sanitation manager sent to the corporate office of the cruise line to oversee the outbreak response procedures.
Norovirus is easily spread when there are large groups of people confined to small areas such as cruise ships, dormitories, hospitals, and school rooms. Passengers who do come down with the norovirus are confined to their staterooms to keep the illness from spreading.
This is one benefit to booking a balcony cabin as passengers can still enjoy a limited cruise experience as compared to those in inside staterooms. Passengers are encouraged to wash their hands frequently (before and after every meal at minimum) and to never touch food with their bare hands.
Cruise Fever will continue to monitor this latest outbreak and will update this page as more information becomes available.
The Balmoral is a 1,230 passenger cruise ship that is currently on a 34 night round trip cruise out of Southampton, England. After a stop in Bermuda, the ship is stopping at ports along the Northeast coast of the United States. After making its way up to St. Johns, Newfoundland, the ship will return to Southampton, England on May 20, 2016.
Photo Credit: LesMeloures – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0