Island Princess Halts Cruise Due to Noro Outbreak

June 6, 2004
In the first major Norovirus outbreak of the Alaska cruise season, Princess Cruises' Island Princess last week experienced such high numbers of ill passengers and crew -- that it ended the voyage a day early.

Medical staff on the ship, which left Vancouver last Saturday for a weeklong trip to Whittier, reported that within three days of boarding 375 passengers (19 percent of a total 2,018) and 49 crew (5 percent of a total 896) were affected by the illness. Princess' onboard staff went into what is for these days "the usual" mode-of-operation for any outbreak, offering medical services to those who were ill (and asking them to remain in their cabins for the 24 - 48 hours it takes for Norovirus to pass on through). The ship also underwent an intense cleaning protocol. Representatives of the Centers for Disease Control boarded Island Princess in Skagway last Wednesday and conducted tests which, indeed, determined that the outbreak was that of Norovirus. And Princess quickly transferred extra medical staff from Regal Princess, which was sailing nearby, to help out.

By Thursday, only 20 new cases were reported but Princess decided to halt the cruise early anyway, in order to buy more time for an intensive ship-wide sanitation. As a result, Island Princess, which was to spend the day at College Fjord, made an abbreviated visit before heading to Whittier; the ship arrived there at 5 p.m. on Friday and passengers disembarked.

Princess provided travel service for passengers, offering hotel accommodations and rescheduling flights. The cruise line also offered a refund for the missed cruising day -- and a $150 per person credit towards a future cruise. Folks onboard who were ill were permitted to remain on the ship overnight.

Island Princess departed, as planned, Saturday for the trip south through the Inside Passage to Vancouver.

How can you prevent catching Norovirus? Read Norovirus: What You Need to Know.