As the Alaska/Pacific Northwest 2002 season winds down -- one in which passengers and crew on various ships and with various cruise lines were particularly plagued with contagious flus -- there's one more outbreak to report. Last week, some 46 passengers and seven crew members on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas, sailing a handful of three- and four- day cruises between Seattle and Vancouver, came down with upset stomachs and diarrhea. The ship's officers reported the illnesses to the usual government bodies -- Health Canada and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- and embarked immediately on the now-common "enhanced sanitation" response. That entails intense cleaning in 'high touch' areas such as doorknobs, railings and countertops -- which have been shown to faciliate rapid spread of a virus.
Royal Caribbean spokesman Michael Sheehan says the specific source of the outbreak has not been determined. "It's not simple as if the same people at the same table ate the same meal," he says. Indeed, most of the illnesses that spread onboard cruise ships this summer actually "walked on board" with passengers who had caught the bug on land -- and then spread it onboard.
The company continues to investigate but Sheehan reports that Radiance has experienced no significant outbreaks on cruises that followed.