It goes without saying that we at Cruzely are big fans of cruising. But we also don’t argue that just like any vacation, nothing is perfect.
Case in point: Norovirus and similar bugs that can cause a rapid illness with vomiting and diarrhea, quickly turning your dream vacation into a nightmare. A recent outbreak aboard a Royal Caribbean ship has been in the news.
To be sure, outbreaks of these illnesses are relatively rare given the number of people that take cruises. It’s estimated about 12 million people cruise from North America in a given year. The Centers for Disease Control — who keeps track of virus outbreaks on cruise ships — reports just 11 outbreaks for all of 2017. An outbreak is considered when 3% or passengers or crew report the same illness on a single cruise.
Still, that’s doesn’t mean much if you are one of the unlucky ones who comes down with a stomach bug.
To give you an idea of the size and scope of the largest norovirus outbreaks, we’ve created infographics below that map out the five largest outbreaks aboard cruise ships sailing from the United States in 2017.
The data below comes from the Centers for Disease Control website.
5 Largest Outbreaks Aboard Cruise Ships
Note: One “person” icon in the chart represents 10 affected people.
The year’s largest outbreak occurred aboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. In total, the CDC reports 310 passengers were stricken with a gastro illness, or about 7.5% of all passengers on the ship. Meanwhile, 22 members of the crew were reported sick.
The second-largest outbreak came aboard the Crown Princess. In October/November, this two-week sailing saw 184 passengers and 12 crew come down with a bug. In total, that comes out to about 6% of passengers and 1% of the crew on the ship.
Another large outbreak occurred aboard the Celebrity Reflection. While 173 of the more than 3,00 passengers (about 5.7%) were ill, only 3 members of the crew came down with the sickness, according to the CDC.
Holland America’s Noordam unfortunately had two outbreaks that were large enough to be catalogued by the CDC. The larger of the two occurred in late July, when 167 passengers (8% of all passengers on the cruise) were hit with the illness. In addition, 6 members of the crew also reported being ill.
The final ship on our list is the Coral Princess. On a cruise in March 2017, 157 passengers — representing almost 8% of the 2,106 on board, caught a norovirus bug. As well, 25 members of the crew reported being ill.
How to Stay Healthy on a Cruise
The unfortunate thing about cruise ships is that they are perfect for spreading illness. You have thousands of people in a confined space with lots of public areas. So how can you do your best to not become a statistic on the CDC website?
The best thing you can do is ensure you wash your hands regularly and/or use hand sanitizer. It’s best to do so before meals, but doing it several times throughout the day can help improve the odds of not getting sick.
As well, you should keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible. This helps limit the possibility of the virus makings its way into your body from your hands touching infected surfaces on the cruise ship.