November 17, 2002
Holland America's Amsterdam, not to mention passengers and crew, continues to struggle with the annoying -- and potentially trip-ruining -- outbreak of Norwalk Virus that has now plagued a series of different voyages since October. Following the first outbreak, the cruise line conducted an intense day-long cleaning -- after the disembarkation of that voyage, where some 163 passengers and 18 crew members reportedly were struck with the flu-like illness. But Norwalk continues to afflict travelers on the latest cruise -- comprising about 3 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control's Vessel Sanitation Program, which once again puts Amsterdam in the danger-zone. Norwalk Virus, a gastrointestinal illness that lasts between 24 - 48 hours and is highly communicable -- spread through anything from a television remote control to a stairway banister -- has been a problem on Alaska sailings for a variety of cruise lines over the past few years but this is the first major cruise ship outbreak -- at least in years anyway -- on a Caribbean sailing. Rumors continue to spread that Holland America will break down and cancel a voyage (or be forced to by the CDC if the numbers continue to climb for the fourth straight cruise)-- and use that time to even more intensely clean the ship but in a company statement issued Friday "at this time, based on the low number of new and total cases, we are not at a point that would require taking the ship out of service for the next sailing on 11/21." In the meantime, passengers afflicted with Norwalk Virus on autumn Amsterdam cruises have already filed a class-action lawsuit against Holland America.