November 12, 2002
Norwalk Virus, a highly communicable virus and the particular scourge of cruise passengers in Alaska last summer, has resurfaced -- this time in the Caribbean. According to news reports, more than 160 passengers and 18 crew members on Holland America's Amsterdam got sick on its last 10-day Caribbean voyage. It looks, at this point, to be a Norwalk-style strain. Symptoms of Norwalk Virus include diarrhea and vomiting. As is now common procedure with this regular bandit-of-an-illness (Norwalk-type viruses thrive in closed areas like cruise ships and can easily be picked up simply by touching everything from hand rails to poker chips that had also been touched by an infected person), a veritable army of cleaners came onboard the 1,380-passenger ship when it docked at Port Everglades Monday morning. Typically, when ships report high numbers of infected passengers (among those cruise lines in Alaska that struggled with Norwalk included Princess, Royal Caribbean and Holland America), they embark on an extremely stringent cleaning campaign. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is, as is protocol, investigating. Spokespeople for Holland America were not immediately available but we'll provide you with updates as they occur.