277 passengers on board one of the largest cruise ships in the world have been infected with the Norovirus. Royal Caribbeans Oasis of the Seas is returning to its home port in Canaveral, Florida one day early. The ship was supposed to be on a 7 night Caribbean cruise with stops in Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico. The Oasis, which can carry up to 6100 passengers did not reach its final stop in Mexico and has turned back towards Florida.
“All of the ship's guests will receive full refunds of their cruise fare paid. We think the right thing to do is get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health,” said Owen Torres spokesperson for Royal Caribbean.
Less than 3% of people who were on board the ship fell ill with the virus. Those who were displaying symptoms were quarantined to their rooms.
A letter sent out to all guests on the ship read “In an abundance of caution, we have implemented enhanced sanitizing procedures on board …You will likely see some of these activities throughout our sailing, as we are taking all steps necessary to maintain our high health standards,”
Shawn Popelski a 19 year old from Vermont sailing on the Oasis who didn't get sick told the Orlando Sentinel “I’m still having a good time,” he said. “Anything beats the cold weather in Vermont.”
When the ship returns to Port Canaveral, a complete sanitization process will take place. The next cruise itinerary will not be affected and the Oasis of the Seas will be back to business as usual.
277 passengers and crew sick with Norovirus on Oasis of the Seas
Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes gastrointestinal illness in humans. Once exposed symptoms will begin within 24-48 hours. The main symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain that can last up to 3 days. Most people will recover without any treatment needed.
Norovirus spreads very easy. You can catch it by ingesting food or drink that has infected, touching any contaminated surface, then touching your nose, mouth or eyes. The virus is also airborne and spreads when an infected person vomits or flushes the toilet. The virus is then aerosolized in the air and will infect any individual that inhales in close proximity.
It takes very little to make someone sick with norovirus. It only takes 18 particles to infect one person. The amount of virus that would fit on the top of a pin head could infect over 1000 people.
Norovirus is notorious for outbreaks on cruise ships. The close quarters on a cruise ship create the perfect conditions for the virus to spread easily from person to person.
Don't go canceling your cruise just yet. According to the CDC, only 1% of all norovirus outbreaks occur on cruise ships.
The recent outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships in the media hasn't affected the cruise industry. With an estimated 27 million people going on cruises in 2018, ships were at 100% capacity and cruise lines are scrambling to build ships to keep up with demand.