It was just reported that the Norwegian Joy cruise line ship docked in Los Angeles with hundreds of passengers experiencing symptoms of the Norovirus. A Princess cruise line ship just experienced this same issue last week as well in the Caribbean.
What is the Norovirus? In essence, it’s a fairly bad stomach bug. It can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting and it spreads easily if you let it.
Whenever I talk to people about cruising, I hear many concerns about it. I would hear that people are always getting sick, it’s a death trap, there’s nothing to do, etc. Cruising is safe and fun and it’s safe as long as you and the other passengers keep it safe.
Here a couple of tips to stay safe and report any unsafe activities that may help spread the Norovirus.
Always Wash Your Hands AND Use the Hand Sanitizer!
I shouldn’t need to say this but always wash your hands after using the restroom. And, wash it with soap. There was a study done in terms of how long you wash your hands with soap and how much bacteria is left on your hands. For example, if you only wash your hands with water, there are still bacteria on your hands. If you only wash with soap for 1 second, you still have bacteria, fewer bacteria, but there are still bacteria.
The study showed that you needed to wash your hands with soap for at least 7 seconds to kill all the bacteria.
It’s unbelievable how often I still see people not properly wash their hands after using the restroom and once they grab the handle of the restroom door, you can be infected with the Norovirus by touching the same handle.
The Norovirus is a stomach born illness and is first spread through feces or vomit. So if someone uses the bathroom and doesn’t properly wash their hands, they can easily spread the virus to others.
After washing your hands, make it a habit of using a fresh new paper towel to open the restroom door and then throw it away immediately. Do not keep it with you to throw away later. Throw it away immediately!
Whenever you enter the dining room or any food & drink establishment, use the hand sanitizer. They are EVERYWHERE so you can’t miss them! This is especially important if you’re about to eat food items where you would use your hands and not the silverware. Even if you’re not eating with your hands, still use the hand sanitizer. Better safe than sorry.
Do NOT Refill Your Water Bottle At The Water Station!
Think about this, you have been drinking from your water bottle and then you put your water bottle up against the water station spout, even touching the spout with the water bottle exactly where you’ve been drinking from. If you were sick, you would have just transferred your virus/bacteria to others using that station.
If you see someone doing this, notify a crew member immediately so that they can properly clean the spout before others use it.
I’ve personally seen this happen too many times and it disgusts me that people would even think it’s hygienic to do this.
Instead, grab a new cup, fill it up with water, and take it back to your table to pour into your water bottle.
Notify Cruise staff of Unclean Toilets or Areas
You can help keep the cruise safe by notifying cruise staff if any of the public toilets and dining tables are unclean. This will help prevent the spread of the Norovirus if it happens to occur on the ship.
The cruise staff tends to clean all areas fairly often and if any cruise staff falls ill, they take very good precautions to prevent any spread.
However, when passengers become ill, they or others near them may not be as cautious and clean and then end up spreading the Norovirus to others causing a chain reaction that then ends up spreading to hundreds of others.
Even if others end up getting the Norovirus, you can still prevent yourself from getting it by keeping yourself clean.
Stay away from the buffet if you hear that many others have gotten sick on the ship as it spreads easily there.
Think about it when you grab the serving utensil at the buffet. Did the person before you clean their hands properly? Are the serving utensils clean? The serving staff does replace them every so often but if the person just before you uses it and has the Norovirus, you may just have contracted the Norovirus if they did not properly clean their hands.
I’ve been on over a dozen cruises and have never had issues with the Norovirus. We have many friends that love cruising as well and it’s safe and always fun as long as you be safe as well.
For more information about Norovirus Transmissions and tips about safety, you can visit the CDC Norovirus page for more information.