How to avoid the vomiting bug

//How to avoid the vomiting bug

Norovirus, the winter vomiting bug, is not exactly rare on cruise ships. It’s a frequent visitor – just as it is in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and anywhere people gather in significant numbers. When it turns up, it’s about as welcome as Dan Evans at a News of the World reunion party.
The outbreak this week on Explorer of the Seas, however, has set a new high water mark, affecting a bigger percentage of passengers and crew than any recorded by the US Centre for Disease Control in the past 20 years.
More than 600 guests, out of a total of 3,050 on board, were hit by the illness during a 10-day Caribbean cruise. The voyage was cut short so the ship could return early to Bayonne, New Jersey, for deep cleaning and to carry out a “barrier” sanitation programme “to make certain that any remaining traces of the illness are eliminated,” according to a Royal Caribbean spokesperson.
As compensation, passengers received a 50 per cent refund and a 50 per cent credit for a future cruise. In an unusual move, the company said passengers who were confined to their cabins due to illness would also receive additional compensation for each day of confinement.
British-based cruise lines are no strangers to norovirus, which is almost always brought on board by passengers suffering an infection. At times of peak risk, many ships restrict self-service buffet facilities until two or three days into a voyage in order to reduce the risk of passing the illness on.
All ships require passengers to sign a declaration that they have not been suffering from sickness or diarrhoea in the days immediately before embarkation. Guests often avoid stating the truth for fear of being denied boarding.
Disinfectant and anti-bacterial hand gels are used on entry to the ship and restaurants, but the most effective preventative measure for norovirus is frequent and thorough hand washing.
Here on Azamara Quest, the ship on which I am travelling to the Sea of Cortez this week, crew avoid handshakes and greet passengers with a fist bump instead. I have also seen captains using a rather ungainly greeting of touching elbow-to-elbow.
Tempting fate, I know, but in 17 years of travel by cruise ship I have never been affected. My precautions include avoiding handrails whenever possible, and pressing lift buttons with a knuckle rather than a flat finger. Sounds crazy, but it works for me.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:28+00:00 31 January 2014|Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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