Norovirus is an RNA virus which can cause gastroenteritis in humans. Washing your hands with soap and water is a recommended preventative measure. It is a highly contagious virus and has recently surfaced aboard two major cruise ships, The Ruby and Crown Princess, Around 500 people were affected. In addition, on Saturday, the Crown Princess had to end its voyage two days early in order to sanitize the ship. I applaud them for taking responsibility and doing the right thing by ending the cruise early despite the jost profits they end up suffering.
Due to many outbreaks of the norovirus on cruise ships, many steps have been taken by t to reduce the outbreaks of this virus. According to the cruise lines: “Our sanitation program has been developed in coordination with the CDC and includes such measures as disinfection of high-touch surfaces; encouraging correct hand washing procedures and enhancing this with the use of hand sanitizing gels placed throughout the ship; isolating ill passengers and crew in cabins until non-contagious; encouraging passengers to use their own cabin’s bathroom facilities; and providing regular verbal and written communication to passengers about steps they can take to stay well while onboard.” Despite these steps, the outbreaks still exist. The cruise ship industry continues to insist the virus has nothing to do with a cruise ship, that the outbreaks are not more prevalent on cruise ships than other places. as far as cutting the cruise short, the cruise line company stated: “We sincerely regret having to cut short our passengers’ cruise vacations because of this highly-unusual situation. We will, of course, be refunding their cruise fare, arranging flights home, including covering change fees if air was not booked through Princess, providing hotel accommodation if necessary, and offering a 25 percent future cruise credit.”
According to an article published in the Sun Sentinel it is peak season for norovirus. In addition, Princess has stated that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said there are “widespread outbreaks of norovirus occurring in the U.S.”. A recent article in the Florida newspaper Sun-Sentinel provides more discussion about this virus. Passengers can get very sick from this virus, and in rare cases, the virus can cause death.
It is difficult to prove any negligence on the part of the cruise ship for the outbreak of the norovirus during a cruise. One can question their sanitation procedures, but it is difficult to prove the cruise line did something wrong that resulted in the outbreak. If there are back to back cruises with an outbreak of the norovirus, that would be different. In such a case, that would suggest the cruise ship company didn’t properly sanitize the ship after the first outbreak and before the start of the next cruise.
Rivkind and Margulies, P.A. are Miami based maritime attorneys that handle all type of accidents occurring on the waterway, including boating accident, cruise ship accidents, and accidents involving personal watercrafts.