Norovirus is nasty. Symptoms include…well…it’s a stomach virus, you know what they include – and they’ll ruin your vacation. The CDC has compiled the information on Norovirus outbreaks over the years and there are some clear winners and losers when it comes to keeping ships clean and avoiding large outbreaks.
The CDC investigates ship illnesses when 3% or more of the passengers or crew have symptoms on voyages from 3-21 days.
Norovirus incidents peaked in 2006, with 34 significant outbreaks and that number fell to nine last year (2013) – four of which were on Celebrity Cruises (Royal Caribbean).
Over the last 20 years, Holland America (Carnival Corp) and Princess Cruise Line (Carnival Corp) topped the list of outbreaks followed by Celebrity (Royal Caribbean) and Norwegian. Interesting to note: while the subsidiary lines of Carnival and Royal Caribbean had a high number of outbreaks, the signature brands that sail under those names (with many more ships) actually had lower numbers of outbreaks. Carnival Cruise Line didn’t have a single outbreak last year.
Other news outlets are reporting that you should avoid longer cruises due to the increased risk, but the very graphic they put together seems to dispute the validity of that. It’s clear that 7, 10, 14, and 15 day sailings have the highest concentration of incidents, but they are also the most common. Also, the trend line in percentage affected by the outbreak is clearly declining with increased cruise length.
For more information on specific outbreaks, the CDC has compiled a database.