Norovirus primarily spreads through contaminated food. It is very contagious. It can cause a serious disease.

Knowing much more now about virus pandemics and outbreaks, in this case particularly when undertaking a cruise with one of the largest cruise ship lines, the Princess Cruises. This was in September 2015. Embarking from Vancouver across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. The cruise itself was for 21 days on the Star Princess.

Soon after embarkation at Vancouver a number of passengers started coughing – the kind of cough that brings up your lungs. I had a balcony, my neighbor to my left was the first to cough. Couple of days later, my neighbor to the right of me started. Then more and more passengers got sick.

This had been a viral outbreak, possibly already arriving with the Start Princess from a previous voyage, before arriving in Vancouver. I complained officially at the Customer Services Desk, request that I like to use my balcony without being coughed at by both sides. No reaction. Throughout this voyage a large number of guests fell quite ill. Dining rooms started empty out. But entertainment went on, allowing guests to congregate in groups.

On 27 September the first health advisory report was issued by Dr. Grant Tarling, Chief Medical Officer, referring to (simple) cold and fly symptoms,and giving out advice how to protect yourself. In addition to the hundreds of (Alcohol-based) hand sanitizing stations throughout the ship. On 30 September 2015 the second health advisory report was issued to all guests, strongly suggesting an outbreak of Norovirus.

[ http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/about/overview.html ]. Measures were put in place to protect open food buffets, allowing the crew to handle foods with gloves.

Of multiple posts on this particular voyage, this strikes me

[ http://www.cruiselawnews.com/articles/norovirus/ ] as underestimating the severity of a particularly nasty outbreak of respiratory and gastro-intestinal disease on the Star Princess.

On the ship throughout the voyage I was not sick. Returning back to Vanvouver, arriving Cruise Ship Terminal, on October 4h, 2015. From Vancouver, the trip back home to Victoria, Vancouver Island, spending many hours by bus and ferry to finally return home, I was still OK. Until the next day after my return, that nasty virus got hold of me and I was sick for weeks. This type of virus is difficult to fight, because is is the immune system that needs to take care of it. Miraculously I had survived this.

NOTE.

My observations on this ship: Guests were still coughing into their hands. Using the Internet room and touching keyboards, or coughing freely into the air surrounding them. Or seafood and fruits being served which might or might not have been infected. Because of the fact that the disease started immediately upon embarkation, it can strongly be suspected that the Norovirus was already present when the voyage started. From a financial point of view, it is bad business to purchase a cruise for around $5,000 which includes not only a nice cabin with balcony, food, swimming pools, entertainment of all sorts, but also (hidden) a dangerous viral infestation.

{BTW – I never had any experience like this in my life.} [ https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/about/transmission.html ]

[ https://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/fs-sa/fs-fi/norovirus-eng.php ]