In yet another possible hit for the cruise industry this year, a ship scheduled to depart from the Port of New Orleans on Saturday was delayed for several hours due to a purported stomach virus outbreak. The Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas is one of three cruise ships in the United States suspected of a weekend norovirus outbreak. Two ships based out of Florida, the Ruby Princess and the Crown Princess, also reported a similar outbreak of illness.
According to Louisiana state epidemiologist Raoult Ratard, the nation’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) informed him of a possible outbreak on Friday before the Voyager of the Seas returned to port. The CDC did not disclose to him exactly how many arriving passengers were ill, however. It is estimated that approximately 200 passengers who returned on the ship Saturday suffered from vomiting and diarrhea due to the virus. Ratard also stated the outbreak was not large and up to 3,000 individuals may be ill due to norovirus exposure on any given day in the City of New Orleans alone.
The virus outbreak caused concern due to the close quarters associated with cruise travel. Any illness can spread quickly in such an environment. On Saturday, officials in New Orleans took extra precautions to thoroughly clean and sanitize the ship in the hopes of avoiding any additional passenger exposure to the virus on the 15-deck, 3,100-passenger cruise ship. After the ship was decontaminated, the Voyager of the Seas departed New Orleans on a seven day trip.
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