Royal Caribbean “Freedom of the Seas” Sick Again with Norovirus


What’s worse than one outbreak of the norovirus on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship? How about a second out break aboard the same ship on consecutive cruises? Correction … this is actually the third consecutive cruise that someone became ill.  That is exactly what happened on Monday when the Royal Caribbean “Freedom of the Seas” was held in port for extensive cleaning. The question that needs to be asked is why can’t Royal Caribbean provide a clean and healthy environment for its passengers and crew? Two outbreaks of the norovirus on two consecutive cruises. That is unacceptable. At what point are cruise lines going to change their policies & procedures when dealing with the norovirus, rather than just acting after the fact?

More than 380 passengers and crew members aboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas were sickened by norovirus during a Nov. 26-Dec. 3 Caribbean cruise. The ship was cleaned before its next cruise, but 97 passengers and 11 crew members became sick with the same illness last week, officials at the Miami-based cruise line said. (AP)

2 more ships hit by virus. Two ”sick ships” returned to South Florida ports Sunday, prompting a federal health agency to dock one vessel for two days.

Two cruise ships returned to South Florida ports Sunday morning with passengers sick with norovirus. One of them, a Royal Caribbean ship, will not sail for 48 hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a ”no sail” recommendation.

The CDC issued the advisory — a rare occurrence, according to a CDC spokesman — for the Freedom of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, when the vessel returned to the Port of Miami with sick passengers on its third consecutive cruise. (Miami Herald)


Posted December 11, 2006 by
Cruise Ship, Travel | 20 comments

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  • Comments

    20 Responses to “Royal Caribbean “Freedom of the Seas” Sick Again with Norovirus”

    1. JusticeforGeorge on December 11th, 2006 9:16 am

      RED, according to the Miami Herald, that is the THIRD CONSECUTIVE outbreak for the Freedom of the Seas.

      “The CDC issued the advisory — a rare occurrence, according to a CDC spokesman — for the Freedom of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, when the vessel returned to the Port of Miami with sick passengers on its third consecutive cruise.”

    2. Katablog on December 11th, 2006 10:19 am

      While you make a wonderful point about cleaning of cruise ships, there is a flip side too.

      Why do passengers sick with flu like symptoms get on cruises and expose thousands of other people to this illness? Yes, I know they’ve blocked out the time and want a nice vacation, but if they would consider the “damage” they do to others’ vacations instead of just themselves, there would be less problems for everyone.

      In November 2006 we waited for 3.5 hours to board the Island Princess because of ship cleaning. They evidently did a great job because there was no further outbreak.

      The downside is that Princess didn’t take care of their waiting passengers while they did clean the ship. Since this is not all that unusual, you’d think the cruise companies would at least have water and other amenities to take care of waiting passengers.

    3. Richard on December 11th, 2006 11:31 am

      It seems unlikely to me that, when a ship has three outbreaks of norovirus in as many cruises, the cleaning job was that great … or that each outbreak can be attributed to the passengers. It’s also interesting, I think, that in each recent outbreak, the response of the cruise ship companies is the same … some (unnamed and unidentified) passengers got on at some port and they caused it.

      These ships are HUGE … I’d say the statistical likelihood of a virus being spread like that in such a short time is nil. Airlines don’t seem to have this problem, at least not that I’ve noticed, and their space is much more congested.

      Obviously the CDC isn’t blaming the passengers. It’s holding the cruise ship company responsible, and in a most unusual move is telling it: “This ship will stay at port unless and until it can be cleaned.”

      I hope al-Qaida isn’t reading about this and figuring out where it will launch its next attack.

    4. Richard on December 11th, 2006 11:33 am

      Also, in one of the articles the company blamed the passengers! “If they would wash their hands, they wouldn’t get sick,” or something like that.

      Blame the victim ….

      I guess word-of-mouth advertising won’t be so great now, especially when these people hear that it’s all THEIR fault.

    5. Minnesota Dad on December 11th, 2006 12:11 pm

      This is a little harsh on the cruise lines. It is blaming the cruise lines for causing norovirus.

      Norovirus is highly contagious. I spent two days in bed with it last week. My wife had it the week prior. As a result, both of my kids have had it. I know a bunch of friends that have had it.

      This is not necessarily a cruise ship problem as it is running (no pun intended to those with norovirus) rampant up here in Minnesota. Should we blame Minnesota?

      If I had gotten on a plane and flown down to my cruise last week, everything I touched from money to utensils to door handles would have had the chance of spreading norovirus. Its aggressive and that is why it is spreading like crazy.

      It is VERY possible that norovirus has nothing to do with the ship or its crew, but rather folks flying down from Minnesota to go on a cruise!


    6. Houston on December 11th, 2006 12:14 pm

      I have noticed that ships taking passengers to the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean are the ones getting people sick, the ships going to the northern climates don’t seem to have the problem. Texas has had several ships come in with 4-5 hundred people sick.

    7. dennisintn on December 11th, 2006 12:15 pm

      the cruise industry is probably like aruba. they’re worried that too many of their customers are going to desert them for safer sojourns like the “donner party re-enactment” trips.

    8. on December 11th, 2006 12:42 pm

      Cruise ships DO have a problem with being more interested in the money than the passenger. However, I saw first hand how at least two cruise companies deal with Norovirus and it is very aggressive because they know it will cost them a pretty penny if they don’t.

      On the QM2 we saw them sanitizing a room from top to bottom where a passenger was suspected to have Norovirus. They wear bio-hazard suits and all.

      On the Island Princess after their previous outbreak, no passenger could touch buffet food for 3 ways, no salt, pepper or butter on the tables for common use, everyone HAD to santize their hands at the door, blah blah blah.

      You’d be amazed at the number of people that do not wash their hands after using restrooms. Passengers also need to take their own precautions – avoid common restrooms, always wash your hands, use hand santitizers, avoid touching common area things like stair rails and elevators (use your nail or elbow to press the button!) as much as possible.

      Always wash your wants immediately after using gambling chips.

      There are precautions, but of course no assurances that Norovirus still won’t run rampant. You don’t know that people don’t catch it on airlines because the passengers dispurse too quickly to get the statistics. I guarantee that people do get sick from being on airlines. A trick is to use nose swaps or vasoline before you fly to help prevent germs. With a cruise ship, the virus becomes known because the group stay together long enough to see that statistics.

    9. John Staton on December 11th, 2006 12:50 pm

      Hay Minnesota Dad, thank you for letting me know what knocked my wife and I out last weekend. Not the most wonderful thing but it only lasts about 36 hours and you go on with your life. BTW The Who really rocked the Xcel!

    10. Scared Monkeys on December 11th, 2006 1:36 pm

      This is an example of once, twice, three times a lady … For a cruise to have a norovirus break out once is one thing, twice is even a freak thing but ok … however, three times in a row aboard the same ship?

      No way … cruise lines better start doing a little bit more than what they are presently doing.

      That is unacceptable.

      If this is going to be the norm, than it will start to make no sense going on a cruise.

    11. Minnesota Dad on December 11th, 2006 2:30 pm


      I think you are wrong here if you understand Norovirus.

      The virus is currently EXTREMELY prevalent in Minnesota and I am sure throughout the U.S.

      I can completely see how the virus would be on three cruises based on how aggressive I have seen it here in Minnesota. Just about every household is slowly getting one or two members of the club each week.

      It presents in kids as ‘tossing their cookies’ and adults in a lot of time on the pot and lying, groaning, in bed while your intestines painfully wring every bit of water out of your body. Not fun….but not the cruise lines fault.

      Just 5 passengers of 1,000 on a ship coming on board with norovirus can create a major league outbreak within days. It is that contagious.

      I would expect this to be the Cruise Ship norm over the next several weeks/months as norovirus makes the rounds.

      Not deadly….but feels that way when you are going through it! md

    12. dennisintn on December 11th, 2006 4:30 pm

      i guess passengers could all be required to don their bio-hazzard suits before embarking, and stay in them the whole time they’re on board. start a new fashion trend for travelers.

    13. Skyboxx on December 11th, 2006 8:03 pm

      #11, if as you say the virus is extremely common in Minnesota, one has to wonder the ratio number of passengers of minnesoteans vs other.

      As a casual sailor, who sails solo as well as with others, anytime you put people together, cleanliness and personal space is critical. Any virus leased on a concentrated vessel, such as a cruise ship can spread fast.

      Spent 9 days on a charter with three other people and only one person got sick. But it could have been far worse. That was a 40.5 foot sail boat. Can only imagine the risk on the larger boats. Its just like hotels and conventions. I am sure every remembers legionairees disease?

      These cruis ships have heavy concentration of people and the turn around is extraordinary. Can’t believe the ship can disinfect every nook and cranny between cruises, it is a statistical nightmare.

      Good luck to the people and good luck to the cruise lines. Hopefully they are doing their best.

      Clean, Clean and clean some more!; is the only way.

    14. on December 12th, 2006 12:37 am

      Red, you are absolutely right about a ship going out and showing up with sick passengers 3 times in a row – something is wrong with their cleaning procedures.

      Also, I think what others are describing is the flu. I believe Norovirus is a bit different though it has the same type symptoms. First Norovirus normally only lasts 12 to 48 hours where as the flu can go on a bit longer. It is extremely contigitious in closed systems such as planes, trains, hospitals, large office buildings and ships.

    15. Richard on December 12th, 2006 6:05 am

      Of course the cruise ships make certain that their efforts to clean are seen once the news of a problem is out.

      The issue is: how diligent are they until and unless a crisis situation is at hand?

      I still find it hard to believe that these epidemics aren’t breaking out on airlines, but are on the cruise ships.

      It’s just like the missing people on cruise ships … funny, isn’t it, how the cases are always written off as suicides. Don’t buy it, folks.

    16. Sharyn on December 24th, 2006 7:40 pm

      You really can’t blame the cruise ship. I just got off a Royal Caribbean cruise and no one was sick. The crew was constantly cleaning the common areas and the staterooms. Additionally, there were many signs posted reminding passengers to wash their hands thoroughly. You would be surprised how many people do not wash their hands. The only reason people don’t know if people get sick from airplanes is because they are not on long enough to show symptoms. People who are traveling on cruise ships need to respect others and not travel if they recently had the virus. I felt the ships did everything in their power to prevent an outbreak and should be commended for their effort.

    17. Sherryl on February 12th, 2007 10:06 pm

      Norovirus is what it is…people need to wash their hands, wash their hands, wash their hands!! We just disembarked Freedom of the Seas for a one week cruise and their was a very large number of people sick with norovirus including two of my family members. Quarantine, along with gatorade is the promise for those brave enough to come forward. I believe many did not come forward for fear of the quarantine. Trust me, it is the worst experience having to be quarantined when you are supposedly on the trip of a lifetime. The doctor and medical crew did what they could, but this is something that all people have to be aware of or it is uncontrollable. What is the answer? Better educate potential cruise passengers. If more people were aware that this is a genuine concern, they would take better measures themselves. Good luck getting compensation though..

    18. Pamela Fitzgerald on April 4th, 2009 2:02 pm

      I got sick the 2nd day of the cruise on Nov.10,2009 Freedom of the Sea.Fever, loss of appetite and exteme joint pain Nausea nd vomiting.
      Wondering if anyone else on this cruise became ill

    19. sclem on April 6th, 2009 11:03 pm

      just reading this and wondering if anyone knows about the latest “code red” norovirus outbreak on Freedom of the Seas on March 29 2009 sail date? What a nightmare! Over 400 sick on this cruise and sanitizing and offering of hand cleaners did not begin until everyone was getting sick. If they have this problem and it’s been going on now for a few years wouldn’t you think better precautions would be taken by the ship so as not to ruin the vacations of hundreds!? Not only that, but even if you haven’t had symptoms for a day or two they isolate you to your room for 48 hours but that is another story in and of itself.

    20. Diana Ross on May 25th, 2011 10:26 pm

      Another person is missing from a cruise ship. Why doesn’t the FBI look at the cruise ships in the process of human trafficing. If ships aren’t searched involving rooms of passengers,this seems to be very strange. I believe that the ships are working together with the people that abduct persons aganist their will. Why doesn’t someone sign a bill to investigate the cruise ships source of illegal practice?

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