With our short three-day cruise to the Bahamas all booked, reading stories like the recent outbreak of a norovirus-like illness on the Celebrity Mercury sure isn’t comforting. The number of people affected seems to be around 400 and while they’re unsure how it got on board, they’ve responded by bringing a doctor on board and doing more thorough cleanings. The Mercury doesn’t have a great track record as they had two outbreaks last winter. There were a total of 15 outbreaks last year… so they aren’t looking so great.
So how can you prepare yourself? First, norovirus isn’t a distinctly cruise related sickness, it has just gotten a lot of press lately because of outbreaks and because the CDC has to track outbreaks on ships (but not hotels, vacation resorts, etc). The difficult thing about a cruise ship is that you have a lot of people (1800 passengers and 850 crew on the Mercury) in an enclosed area for a long period of time.
How do you get it? On cruise ships, it’s usually physical contact but you can also get it through contaminated food and water. Usually on a cruise ship it’s physical contact like shaking hands or sharing food.
How do you avoid it? Proper sanitation! Wash your hands with hot water and soap before and after eating, touching your face, using the restroom, or whenever you think your hands are dirty. Let’s be honest, these are good practices to have anyway since you could always get a cold from someone on the ship!
Fortunately, our cruise is only three days long so we hope to be fairly safe!