Norovirus Results in 3 Canceled Cruises on Mississippi Queen

October 30, 2006
In an unusually virulent outbreak of Norovirus, Majestic America Line's Mississippi Queen has prematurely ended two different cruises -- and cancelled another outright -- over the past few weeks. In the first instance, during the voyage that departed October 18, some 20 percent of the vessel's 528 passengers and crew were reporting symptoms -- nausea, vomiting, mild fever and diarrhea. The cruise line wound up ending the seven-night Cincinnati to St. Louis trip two days early.

One passenger's symptoms were severe enough to require hospitalization. The rest were housed in a Cape Girardeau hotel, and, in an attempt to nip the virus in the bud, were asked to stay in their rooms (though a spokeswoman for the cruise line said, most vociferously, that they were not "quarantined"). Majestic America then helped make travel arrangements for the passengers to return home.

The cruise line reported the illness levels to local and national health agencies, which dispatched staffers to the ship.

Meanwhile, back onboard Mississippi Queen, the crew scrubbed and sanitized the ship top to bottom -- bedspreads and linens also were cleaned and pillows were replaced -- as the passenger-less ship headed toward St. Louis to embark its next scheduled journey.

However, the germs refused to leave their home on Mississippi Queen. Within the first day of the October 25th sailing, 12 folks had already reported to the infirmary with Noro symptoms. In an effort of caution, the cruise line canceled the rest of the trip and passengers were bused from Hannibal, the first port of call, back to St. Louis., where Majestic America again helped make travel arrangements for passengers to return home. These passengers will receive a partial refund or credit towards a future cruise.

Mississippi Queen's next sailing on November 1 has already been canceled to give Majestic America ample time to eradicate the bug. The ship will next sail its voyage slated to start November 8; that's a St. Louis roundtrip.

Were you supposed to be a guest on the November 1 sailing? Majestic America Line will be compensating you as follows:

All guests are being given the opportunity to re-book on a future cruise either later this year or into 2007.

Any guest who wishes to cancel will be offered a full refund.

All guests who choose to re-book will receive a $250 credit that they can either apply to that future booking (upgrade their accommodations, for example), or receive in the form of a straight credit from the company.

And it never hurts to provide a reminder: while Norovirus is not limited to cruise ships, travelers in confined spaces should remember to wash their hands frequently, bring along some hand sanitizer and cover their mouths when they sneeze. If you have any other questions about Norovirus before your next cruise, make sure you check out Norovirus: What You Need to Know and Demystifying the Myth of Norovirus.

--by Erica Sapio, Assistant Editor