Norovirus! When you hear this word …do you first think of cruise ships?

Well ……. think again! Yes there are cases of norovirus on cruise ships, and when there is an outbreak it gets lots of attention in the media.

According to a recent report by the CDC, more than two-thirds of the outbreaks can be traced back to restaurants and infected food workers!

The CDC estimates that only one (1) percent of outbreaks happened on cruise ships in the four (4) years covered by this study! Let me repeat that …….. only 1% of the outbreaks happened on cruise ships!

Do we need to be aware that there can be, and are, norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships? Of course, and the cruise lines, and we as passengers, must take precautions to prevent an outbreak.

The norovirus can spread quickly in closed spaces like schools, daycares, nursing homes, dormitories,and cruise ships. The virus is highly contagious and is spread in three ways:

– Person to person
– By ingesting contaminated food or water
– By touching contaminated surfaces (bathroom fixtures, etc.)

So what should you do? What we do on a cruise ship is to be proactive!

– We avoid person to person contact where possible (knuckles instead of handshakes)
– We avoid buffets when possible or either try to be there at opening or utilize stations where the food is either cooked for you or servered by an attendant. On Azamara, there buffets attendants serve all the food on their buffets for the first couple days to assure no one might have brought the virus onboard. If you ever watch people and some of there poor and inappropriate habits at the buffet you can understand why caution is needed.
– We practice proper restroom habits. First we try to avoid public restrooms if possible. If not possible, we use paper towels to avoid touching surfaces. As with buffets, if you watch people and their poor or inappropriate restroom habits, you can again see where caution is needed.
– We use anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, but remember this will not protect you from a virus!
– When sneezing or coughing use proper habits. Use tissue or sneeze/cough into your armpit and not your hand.

I personally think the cruise lines do a pretty good job in keeping their ships as safe as possible from the norovirus. Will there be outbreaks in the future ……… probably ……….. will the media take advantage of it ……… probably! Just remember the statistics from the CDC and continue to practice proper habits for prevention.

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