Suspected Norovirus bugs Caribbean cruise ship

NEW YORK, USA, Tuesday January 01, 2013 – A Caribbean Christmas cruise aboard Cunard’s prestigious Queen Mary 2 conjures up images of sun-drenched days and star-studded nights set against the backdrop of the ultimate in luxury with everything from an onboard Canyon Ranch spa to the first Veuve Clicquot champagne bar afloat.

Unfortunately, passengers who departed New York on December 22 for a 12-day, round-trip Caribbean cruise got a little more than they bargained for, with several being sickened by what was suspected to be a Norovirus bug.

 According to the cruise line, there were 19 passengers with “active symptoms” as of Friday, the day St Lucia welcomed the majestic vessel’s arrival.

The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) website, meanwhile, stated that 194 passengers and 11 crew members reported being ill during the voyage. The website listed the cause of the illness as “unknown.”

A statement from Cunard said, “There has been an incidence of a mild gastrointestinal illness among the passengers on Queen Mary 2. This illness is suspected to be Norovirus, which is highly contagious and typically transmitted from person to person.”

Outbreaks of norovirus infection often occur in closed or semi-closed environments, including hospitals and cruise ships as well as hotels, with an outbreak recorded in Providenciales resorts in Turks and Caicos Islands earlier this year.

The infection spreads rapidly either by person-to-person transmission or through contaminated food. Many norovirus outbreaks have been traced to food that was handled by a single infected person.

The infection usually requires little medical intervention other than supportive therapy and mostly resolves without incident.

Meanwhile, on a CruiseCritic.com message board, a member who claimed to be on board the Queen Mary 2 wrote that the ship’s captain “recommended that people take all of their meals in the full-service restaurants rather than the buffet.”

The post added that the captain requested passengers suffering from the “gastro-intestinal upset” to remain in their cabins.

Affected passengers were also reportedly asked not to go ashore, and were provided with room service as well as care from the onboard medical centre.

A similar outbreak recently occurred on a Princess cruise ship. Five percent of passengers (166) and 30 crew members reportedly fell ill on the Emerald Princess, which docked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Thursday.

The Health Protection Agency, a UK organisation, said the instances of Norovirus are 83 percent higher than at this time last year. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)