Cruising for Some Pepto. Arrrgh, Matey, Why Didn’t We Fly?


January 31, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

Caribbean Princess ship

A barf bag with every ticket. Enjoy!

Carnival Cruise Lines promises that “Even tiny moments will be massively memorable” and that “experiences like these are made to be shared.” Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines guarantees that a vacation with them “Is an experience you’ll never forget.” Well, there is some truth in their advertising.

In the past week alone, two of the premier cruise line operators have seen their top of the line ships stagger back to port early due to an outbreak of the dreaded Norovirus. This nasty little virus is described by sick bay medics as a “fast moving gut bug” which causes severe gastrointestinal illness, vomiting, diarrhea, ugh, you get the point.

The Caribbean Princess (Princess Cruise Lines) reported that 176 passengers and a dozen crew members fell victim to Norovirus as it disembarked in Houston. The Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean Cruises) explored a little too deeply the wonders of just how many of its passengers could, um, toss their sea-cookies over board. This sleek ship slunk back to New Jersey with over 700 passengers “reeking of V and D.” (see above for abbreviations my inquisitive friends).

Passengers wait in the departure lounge after Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas arrived back at Bayonne

s Some of the lucky ones who got Norovirus AND a free cup of coffee for their trouble.

And earlier this year, and let’s be honest, this year is still in its infancy, the Norwegian Star cut its “cruise of a lifetime” short and pulled into Miami with 130 passengers and over a dozen crew now with a whole bucket full of “tiny moments that will be massively memorable.” Oops, sorry, that’s Carnival Cruise. In their case they were hoping that once the Noro and the Virus subsided they would all “Breathe Easier.”

So, what in the name of Captain Jack Sparrow is going on with what is supposed to be “elegant entertainment on the high seas” lately?

Captain Jack Sparrow

Me, I’ll fight Ghost Pirates before I face the dreaded NoroVirus.

I mean, seriously mateys, is it just me, or does it seem that these cruise ships come back with seriously sick passengers and crew more often than Gilligan tried to escape his island on a Banana Boat raft? (Kids google Gilligan’s Island then let’s talk).

Gilligan's Island

I’m with Jack Sparrow, being stranded on this Island was even more fun!

Well, curiosity got the better of me since I have flirted in the past with actually purchasing some of those “tiny moments that will be massively memorable” and I did some research.

There is something called the Vessel Sanitation Program which many but not all of these ships participate in to report things like illnesses and diseases on board. In 2013 there were 10 such vessels that reported at least 2% or more of its passengers contacted the Norovirus and in one instance (Holland America Cruises) E-Coli, another nasty virus. In 2012 there were actually 16 such ships.

So, maybe the tides are turning eh?

Well, according to some folks I checked with knowledgeable about the leisure cruising biz there are concerns that besides not all ships participating in the VSP several either reduce their number of sick passengers or do not disclose at all.

I think we can safely guess why. Spending one’s vacation with a bird’s eye view of the side of a ship or the contours of the porcelain god (toilet for you land-lubbers) may in fact be an “experience you’ll never forget” but one we’d all rather pass up.

Still. The good folks at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) would no doubt like to see full participation, full disclosure and may I humbly suggest, fuller preventive measures in the first place?

This nasty Norovirus can be reduced or even eliminated by doing such things as washing one’s hands thoroughly, ensuring all foodstuff is washed and fresh and that the ship is well “ship-shape” and cleansed from top to bottom.


Follow and learn civilians, follow and learn.

Seems that with what these cruise line operators charge more can be done, no?

Or, the alternative will continue to be in far too many instances the memories that Susan Rogutski will forever savor from her cruise on the “Explorer.” Poor Susan had “three days of sickness and quarantine, I had to be dragged to sick bay after I passed out and all my personal belongings were packed in biohazard bags.”

She’s still not sure if she’ll even get all of her stuff back after contributing her cash and time to what has become a $37.8 billion industry each year.

Her memories though, priceless.

Officials from Royal Caribbean Cruise lines post helpful traveling tips for even the “saltiest of sea dogs.” Here’s a tip I’d like to suggest for all in the cruising business. Get your act together fast or next time we’ll pass up the “tiny moments” and stay home with the kids and watch the Pirates of the Caribbean on the DVD.

I never was one for shuffleboard anyways.





19 thoughts on “Cruising for Some Pepto. Arrrgh, Matey, Why Didn’t We Fly?

  1. Kelly M says:

    I’ve been thinking about taking a cruise to get away from it all BUT now, not so sure. I want sun and surf not V and D!!!

  2. Todd L says:

    Most cruises are still safe, right?? I still like my odds but will bring handi-wipes with me wherever I go!

  3. Sherry T says:

    Cruises are getting to be downright scary! I just got back from one not in the news. Still, we had several people sick and I was worried the whole time. Fun yeah, but not sure I’d roll the dice again…

  4. Paula N says:

    I used to think cruises were like some fantasy vacation, no, forget it, I don’t need the stress…or the bio-hazard bags.

  5. Shaun J says:

    I have been on three cruises with full knowledge of the possibility of this kind of thing happening. On land, I’m the furthest from a germaphobe a person can be but on those boats I was packing hand sanitizer in my pocket and avoiding things like hand rails on stair cases. The crazy thing is on a Royal Caribbean cruise I was on they had attendants outside of the dining room offering to sanitize every passenger’s hands before they entered and some people were declining. All I kept thinking was, really?? What is your possible angle for not wanting clean hands before you eat, I was suspicious of those individuals and made mental notes to avoid any card games or conga lines with any of them the rest of my trip. In all seriousness, it is disturbing how often one of these stories is in the news.

    • And don’t get me started on how many folks go to bathrooms, do their business and don’t wash their hands. I can see why Donald Trump never shakes people’s hands…Glad you didn’t get sick!

    • Jill V says:

      I completely agree with your comment on how ridiculous it was for those people to decline sanitizer. It infuriates me sometimes to hear all the blame being put on the cruise ships alone though. Now granted, many times people get sick while on the cruise…some from just pure sea sickness. However, I feel like a lot of times people are traveling or engaging in activities when really they should be at home. Yes you might have paid for this luxurious vacation and worried that you won’t get reimbursed if you don’t make it on board, but what’s the point of making it on board if you’re just going to be brought right back because your lack of judgment on how bad off you really were. I’m not saying the cruise lines shouldn’t be given some blame. I myself have been on cruise ships (The Caribbean to be exact) and I’ve witnessed the lack of sanitation from cruise ship workers, but I’ve also made sure to follow up with my own care and stick to good proper hygiene. So, really who is to blame? I believe we all are at fault.

  6. Justin L says:

    I have had the luxury to have been on over 13+ cruises all varying from Carnival, Princess, Costa, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, etc., and I have never once had an issue with passengers becoming ill or an outbreak like this occurring. All of the cruises that I have been on had a heavily enacted policy when it came to personal hygiene, and I have never personally seen it become an issue. The ships that were apart of these virus outbreaks must of had a break in communication somewhere along the lines of cleanliness and containing the outbreak, otherwise it would of never been an issue. While I do agree that having over 700 passengers sick is never a good thing, it is also a rare occurrence. 26 ships reported to have sickness outbreaks in the past 2 years, honestly, that’s not too bad when you sit back and consider just how many ships come in and out of port weekly at major ports across the east coast and Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, the article expands on how this industry is a 38 billion dollar industry PER YEAR, and from my experience it roughly costs around $2,000 per family of four to go on a 5-7 day cruise. You do the math. These virus occurrences happen, but it definitely isn’t harming the cruise ship industry in the least bit and it won’t turn me away from going again this year.

  7. Karissa S says:

    I have never been on a cruise and I’m beginning to think that I don’t want to.

  8. Steve M says:

    I have been fortunate to have never been on one of these “Doomed” cruises. The industry really needs to have in place and follow a strict policy in regards to this norovirus. Maybe if they took a page from the navy they may learn something. You figure the largest of our ships holds over 3,000 sailors and marines witch are out to sea for sometimes months at a time with no break out of this disease. Sick bay usually is busy with the normal day to day things and injuries. I spent two West-Pacs about a carrier and never had any type of this breakout that a cruise line has who is only out for what 7-14 days. If any of the nations navy can sidestep this nasty virus, It would seem that a cruise line could do a decontamination in between voyages that would at least reduce the risk of spreading this virus, especially with what they make on each voyage.

  9. Savanna G says:

    I have been on three cruises. The last one I went on was during thanksgiving of last year and the other two were during the summer. You can definitely tell the difference going during the colder weather. A lot of people stayed inside of the ship for the most part and didn’t come out to the deck where the pool was simply because it was too cold and windy. During the summer, there are rarely people inside the ship except at night…. So maybe more people being inside the ship is what has been causing this sickness.

  10. Christi B says:

    This would be absolutely horrible to experience. I mean trapped out at sea with 100s of people carrying around a gut bug… gross!! I feel so sorry for these passengers. I am disappointed in the cruise line as well. Sanitation should always be a top priority especially when people are in such close quarters. Hopefully they will get their act together and cruises will once again be a luxurious experience.

  11. Taylor K says:

    I’ve never been on a cruise because I get sea sick very easily. After reading this, I’m afraid I would spill my digestive system all over the deck the moment I got on the boat. The title is right. I rather stick to flying.

  12. Chris C says:

    This is an extremely serious problem because if the Carnival Cruise line fails to get to the bottom or root of this problem and fix it, the company’s revenue will take a huge hit and there would be a serious threat of going bankrupt and possibly even some lawsuits. they need to take action against this problem otherwise people will, as the title suggests, completely stop going on cruises and flying to there destination. Personally I have never been on a cruise, and no matter how many people have told me that is a trip of a lifetime and a must do, I do not want to pay for a cruise trip if I am just going to get sick.

  13. Y'Keisha says:

    In the past two years, I have encountered seeing mishaps about cruise lines. Owners who are responsible for the cruise lines need to take in more health actions to better suit the passengers of their cruise lines. It does not make since for the passengers to take a break from work and think they are going on a relaxing vacation, but instead have to suffer the numerous viruses on ships that is making everybody contagious of each other and effecting love ones back home. I believe if they do not step up and do anything about it, that cruise ships will be prohibited for our vacation travels.

  14. Lindsay J says:

    It is important to remember the ol’ hand washing techniques. It is obviously concerning when viruses are on board a ship traveling to party destinations. Maybe the consumption of alcohol both lowers the immune system but also the internal reminder of some individuals to wash their hands. This doesn’t excuse the crew members preparing foods of washing there hands frequently as well. I sure wouldn’t like to be sick on a cruise. I remember one cruise that I informed everyone else to not drink local water in Cozumel. Then, guess what I did. Oops.

  15. Casey Holcom says:

    I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise but this is a little concerning. While I haven’t heard any personal stories before of unpleasant experience, it’s troubling to know these aren’t just isolated incidents.

  16. alifox says:

    I have been on two cruises without any issue but seeing as how you are in such close proximity if someone is sick it would be easy to pass on to others. But washing your hands and maintaining a clean environment should be the number one priority.

  17. tara c says:

    After being on three cruises in the past and seeing how many people from all over the nation get on the ships at one time, sickness in some form is going to happen. Not everyone has the same hygiene principles. As for me, I have hand sanitizer everywhere and go through hand soap like I own the company. I do think that cruse lines should inform the CDC on the exact number and form of sickness and I think that instead of ships being able to come in port and leave within hours of arrival should be changed. There is no way that a ship those sizes can be decontaminated in that short of a time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: