Ships take a bad rap for Norovirus

Talking Points – Norovirus and Cruising

1. You’re much more likely to catch the “stomach flu” during normal daily activity than
you are on a cruise ship.
2. Cruising remains extremely safe and healthy vacation option with the well-being of
guests and crew being one of the cruise industry’s highest priorities.
3. Cruise passengers can take simple preventative measures to help decrease the risk of
becoming infected with norovirus.
Below you will find additional information, supporting material, and statistics supporting each
talking point.
1. You’re much more likely to catch the “stomach flu” during normal daily activity than
you are on a cruise ship.
Norovirus is a very common illness in the United States and is · sometimes also called
viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and/or food poisoning.
· Noroviruses can be found in hospitals, day care centers, nursing homes, dormitories
and schools, in addition to cruise ships.
o A suspected outbreak of norovirus occurred among less than 4% of the
passengers and crew aboard Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas in a sailing
that concluded March 8.
o The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was also investigating 400 suspected
cases of norovirus onboard two cruise ships that were sailing in the Caribbean
during the holidays. The cases were reported onboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2,
and Princess Cruises’ Emerald Princess. Another 300 cases were reported in
December 2012 onboard P&O Cruises’ Oliana that was sailing in the Baltic.
o Out of 660 outbreaks confirmed by CDC between 1994 and 2006, the largest
percentage of outbreaks (36%) occurred in long-term care facilities (e.g., nursing
homes), followed by 31% in “restaurants, parties, and events.” Only 20% were
from vacation settings (including cruise ships).
· Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and possible stomach cramping. Those with the
virus may also experience a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, nausea,
and tiredness.
· The CDC estimates that over 20 million Americans contract norovirus every year during
normal activity.
o In 2011, the CDC confirmed just 10 outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships
operating out of U.S. ports, down significantly from over 30 outbreaks in 2006.
o Of the more than 19 million cruise passengers in 2011, the total number
confirmed by the CDC to have contracted norovirus was just 1,099 or less than
.006%. The total number of crew aboard cruise ships confirmed to have
norovirus by the CDC was 84.
2. Cruising remains extremely safe and healthy vacation option with the well-being of
guests and crew being one of the cruise industry’s highest priorities.
Unlike other segments of the travel and hospitality industry, cruise ships · carrying 13 or more
passengers which have a foreign itinerary with U.S. ports are required to participate in the
CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program. Cruise ship medical staff or other designated personnel are required to maintain a log of cases of gastrointestinal illnesses and report those to the CDC.
· According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) each member cruise line hasan outbreak prevention and response plan to address gastrointestinal illnesses which
includes:
o Extensive cleaning and disinfecting of all staterooms and public areas on a daily
basis including counters, bathroom surfaces, door handles, railings and grab bars,
exercise equipment, video arcade equipment, vanities, TV remote controls and
more.
o Extensive onboard communications to encourage passengers to thoroughly wash
their hands frequently to help avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
o The elimination of all self-serve buffets (passengers point to the food they would like
and staff will serve them).
o Extra crew may be brought on board to disinfect the ship with the CDCrecommended
disinfectants from top to bottom before additional passengers board
on turnaround days.
o All crew who have norovirus symptoms may be confined to their quarters or
transferred off the ship.
3. Cruise passengers can take simple preventative measures to help decrease the risk of
becoming infected with norovirus.
· Frequently wash hands with soap and warm water; it’s one of the best preventative
measures one can take.
· Take advantage of the hand-sanitizer stations located throughout the ship, particularly
those located at the entrances of dining areas.
· Drink lots of water and get plenty of rest. Resting helps rebuild your immune system.
Drinking water helps prevents dehydration.
· Be considerate of other people’s health. We urge our clients who may feel ill before their
cruise to contact us to learn what their alternative cruising options may be.
· Anyone seeking additional information on norovirus and proper hand-washing
techniques can visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov or the Vessel Sanitation
Program’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp.

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