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article imageOp-Ed: Another cruise ship hit by norovirus, blames passengers

By Paul Wallis     Dec 28, 2015 in Travel
Sydney - P&O’s Pacific Eden has become a floating nightmare for passengers, with gastrointestinal diseases and a virtual catalog of service issues on a trip in Australian waters. Many cruise ships have had gastro in recent years, and it’s not being addressed.
The Pacific Eden story would make a good black comedy movie, if people weren’t so sick, and the news about one of the world’s leading cruise lines wasn’t so appalling.
*The litany so far:
*Blocked toilets
*60 people sick with norovirus
*Mouldy cabins
*Food on the floors
*“One star motel” service
*Not enough toilet paper
*Piece of plastic found in food
*Captain made statements that more people were getting sick and that “it was our fault,” according to a one of the lucky travellers.
Nauseating as this is, there’s an encyclopedia being slowly written on the subject of cruise ships with disease issues:
Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas also had a recent outbreak of norovirus, with a previous outbreak in 2014 reportedly affecting 700 people.
Forbes Magazine ran a story in 2014 about no less than eight cruise ships affected by norovirus, nine in 2013 and 16 in 2012.
Norovirus is one of the leading causes of gastrointestinal food poisoning. According to the Mayo Clinic, likely causes for norovirus are basically contaminated food, water, or being in close contact to an infected person.
That’s not a great prognosis for those basically trapped on a ship with infected people. There’s a pretty strong argument for prompt evacuation of those suffering from the virus, to minimize its spread. According to the Forbes article above, the US Navy quarantines sufferers, although the Forbes writer points out that’s not so easy for cruise liners.
The continuing outbreaks may simply reflect the realities of proximity to infection, but the other issues on the Pacific Eden, including allegedly very poor onboard hygiene, aren’t exactly a glowing reference to management of the issues onsite if true.
Nor is this story a sparkling testimony to the cruise lines’ comprehension of the problems. What we have here is a sort of ongoing indictment. The mystery isn’t why cruise ships are so vulnerable; it’s why they don’t seem to have solved any of these problems or have any contingency plans in place. The cruise industry is well aware of the norovirus issue, and it’s hard to imagine why this situation should be happening now, after so many well documented previous incidents.
For the kind of money cruise passengers pay for these voyages in to medical history, you’d think the shipping lines would be able to manage basic hygiene.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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