The 3,000+ passengers of the Princess Cruise ended their vacation early this week due to a viral outbreak. The Princess Cruises lines, and others too, have been struggling with the flu-like Norovirus lately, a disease nearly as common as the common cold, but a bit nastier, with 24-48 hours of such symptoms as diarrhea and vomiting – hardly pleasant enough for a pleasure cruise. The Princess Cruise’s Crown Princess interrupted their trip to Curacao and Aruba, coming home two days early from their 7 day Caribbean cruise.
The norovirus is common enough, affecting over 300 million people world-wide each year. The cruise line has taken many efforts to minimize the damage of the virus. They explain: “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 the efforts, the rash of outbreaks hasn’t been able to be curbed. The Princess reported 114 passengers (3.7%) and 59 crew members (5%) with the gastrointestinal illness. The Royal Cruise lines is trying to be accommodating to the disappointed vacations. They have said:
“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.”
Ruby Princess and the Royal Caribbean’s Voyager have also suffered similar outbreaks. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers the disease an outbreak when over 2 percent of the passengers are infected. Nevertheless, the line expects its Crown Princess cruise of Feb. 11 to leave as scheduled.