Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We Are Going to Need More Bleach

Cruise Ships & Norovirus ...
Tis the Season

Celebrity Cruises Constellation is the latest ship to need to have a deep clean following an up tick in the gastrointestinal illness, known as Norovirus on it's 12-night wine tasting cruise to France, Spain and Portugal.   

What happened and who is to blame?

Sanitation Delays Departure

When Celebrity Constellation pulled into port in Southampton, England yesterday (Nov. 6th) the Southampton's Port Health Authority confirmed about 350 passengers had fallen ill with the vomiting and diarrhea bug out of the more than two thousand passengers.  Celebrity Cruises delayed the departure until 8 PM to allow the crew to deep clean 200 affected cabins, identified by the health authority, and all public areas of the ship.

The procedures, that Celebrity Cruises followed, adhere to the guidelines set forth by the international cruise industry.  A statement from Celebrity Cruises said: “A small number of guests experienced a gastrointestinal type illness. We therefore conducted extra cleaning and sanitizing onboard the ship and within the cruise terminal as preventative measures. As a result of the additional cleaning, boarding began at the revised time of 2:00pm yesterday. Our hygiene procedures on-board are comprehensive and always strictly adhered to.”

Who is to Blame

The first inclination when you hear about an outbreak would be to blame the cruise line. Clearly, they have let you down - you expected a healthy cruise, and you got sick.   In fact there's a group of passengers that were on sister cruise line's Independence of the Seas that are suing Royal Caribbean International for £500,000 after contracting norovirus while onboard the ship.

The cruise line is responsible - right?

The cruise line IS responsible  for cleaning the ship and providing the facilities for passengers and crew to maintain proper hygiene onboard the ship.   They do that - you'll notice signs posted in all the rest rooms and crew members pointing out sanitation machines, such as the one in the picture above posted outside the restaurant entrance.  

But, ladies and gentleman - I suspect that YOU are to BLAME.   Did you stop to wash your hands after using the bathroom?   Did you sanitize your hands every time you entered a restaurant onboard the ship.   Did you do so all but one time?   That one time would be enough to kick off this sort of outbreak.

We've just returned from two short cruises on Disney Dream and Carnival Sensation.  On both ships, we noticed the sanitizing materials and signs.  We also noticed many passengers disregarding the signs and avoiding the sanitizing of their hands before entering the restaurant. 

Working together, the cruise lines and passengers could Prevent Norovirus!


Facts About Noroviruses on Cruise Ships  -  gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses can be prevented

Wash hands often. Wash hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before eating or preparing food.  Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer along with hand washing.

Norovirus outbreaks, when they occur on a cruise ship, always make the news.  The truth is these outbreaks can occur anywhere there are groups of people in a small area such as nursing homes, restaurants, catered events, hotels, and cruise ships.

Vessel Sanitation Program - prevention and control of spread of gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on cruise ships

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