Saturday, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ Grandeur of the Seas returned to Baltimore from a seven day journey during which a number of passengers suffered from a gastrointestinal illness causing symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) officially issued a cruise ship illness outbreak alert for the ship, on which 111 of 2122 (5.23%) passengers, and 6 of 790 (0.76%) crew, reported falling ill with symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhea. The CDC still has not officially announced the cause of the illness, but our Florida maritime accident attorneys are waiting with anticipation for a discovery.
According to the Outbreak Alert, Royal Caribbean took the following action to deal with the outbreak:
Increased cleaning and disinfection procedures.
Made announcements to onboard passengers of the outbreak, as well as encouraged reporting of symptoms and hand hygiene.
Collected stool specimens from ill passengers and crew to send to a CDC lab.
Consulted with the CDC on plans for a comprehensive sanitation procedure upon making port in Baltimore, which included: additional cleaning crew to complete a thorough super-sanitization cleaning and disinfection; staged disembarkation for active cases to limit illness transmission; and terminal and transport infection control procedures.
The outbreak aboard the Grandeur of the Seas was small compared to other such epidemics that have occurred recently. According to another CDC Outbreak Alert, in January, Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas suffered from the largest gastrointestinal illness outbreaks on a cruise ship in 20 years, with 630 of 3,071 (20.5%) passengers, and 54 of 1,166 (4.6%) crew falling ill.
The issuance of Outbreak Alerts such as these is part of the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (“VSP”), designed to prevent and control the transmission and spread of gastrointestinal illnesses aboard cruise ships. Gastrointestinal illnesses can cause vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, dehydration, and, in very serious cases, death. Despite the CDC’s efforts to improve cruise ship health and cleanliness, violations occur often on many cruise ships.
Part of the problem is the fact that many passengers afflicted with gastrointestinal illness are unable to leave their cabin due to their symptoms or don’t want to risk being quarantined by the ship’s crew. Because these passengers don’t report their symptoms, the seriousness of an outbreak can be diminished.
Cruise lines have a duty to provide their passengers with a safe and sanitary environment. Failing to establish and enforce proper cleaning and hygiene procedures may expose a cruise line to liability for negligence. As this blog has mentioned before, because cruise ship claims are subject to different laws and much shorter statutes of limitations, sometimes as short as one year, they are best handled by experienced cruise ship accident attorneys.
The Florida cruise ship accident lawyers of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and have been representing the victims of cruise ship negligence for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been injured in a cruise ship accident or has been the victim of a crime while on a cruise ship, contact the Florida maritime attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. today.