It has been reported that an Alaska cruise ship, the Sea Princess, reported the presence of the Noro virus aboard one of its cruises for the fourth time since the middle of May. It was reported that 2.4% of the passengers aboard the cruise ship were sickened by the virus, which is a gastrointestinal infection that causes diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain.
The centers of disease control and prevention does not consider this an “official outbreak” since an alert is not issued by the CDC unless 3% of the passengers or crewmembers get stricken with the virus. However, this is the fourth time that it has been reported that passengers have been stricken with this virus on this ship. The second and third episodes of the Noro virus cruise did result in CDC issuing an alert.
The cruise ship company had to perform an extensive cleaning of the vessel. In a statement released by Princess Cruises, the operator of the ship, it was stated that “we did experience a number of passengers with Noro virus on three earlier Sea Princess cruises, but due to extra sanitation efforts and diligent communication with our passengers, no heightened occurrence of illness occurred on the June 9th cruise. We believe the reintroduction of the virus on the current cruise was inadvertently brought onboard by embarking passengers, as we know Noro virus is currently circulating widely throughout North America.”
We have previously reported on this Noro virus, and much has been written about it, including whether it is preventable and whether the cruise ship environment creates an increased safety risk for this type of virus, or whether it is just simply a common virus that is occurs with no greater frequency aboard cruise ships than in other locations. It is difficult to prove negligence on the part of the cruise line relating to passengers getting stricken with this Noro virus. However, once the Noro virus does appear on the cruise ship, there must be very stringent cleaning and disinfecting requirements before the cruise ship should sail again with passengers onboard.
I am sure that Princess hopes the Noro virus does not purchase a ticket for another cruise with them any time in the near future. Cruise ship companies do not like adverse publicity. Most of the cruise line companies are known to have big public relations departments and do their best to promote the good sides of cruising, and do their best to down play any of the risks associated with cruising.
Our firm continues to be safety advocates for passengers and crewmembers who suffer harms at sea.