Update! Holland America's Ryndam Reports Noro Outbreak

March 9, 2007

Editor's Note -- Now that the current Ryndam sailing is at its halfway mark, we checked with Holland America and found that the ship is doing very well, with just 1 percent of its guests reporting illness. The stringent protocols are still being followed, however, to ensure safety for all passengers. HAL anticipates that Ryndam will leave as scheduled on March 13 for its Sea of Cortez voyage. Following is our original item.

For the second time in as many sailings, passengers on Holland America's Ryndam experienced stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea -- sure signs of a Norvirus outbreak -- on a cruise that ended in San Diego.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 184 passengers (or approximately 14 percent) were affected on the February 21 to March 3 sailing. On the cruise just previous to this one, a 30-day roundtrip from San Diego to Hawaii and French Polynesia, 110 passengers (or 9.5 percent) became ill.

CDC officers boarded the ship in Cabo San Lucas on its most recent voyage and returned with the passengers and crew to San Diego. Holland America also boarded additional staff to assist with the cleaning and disinfecting of the ship as well as environmental health professionals to assist with medical issues.

Second only to the common cold in the number of people affected by the range of pathogens known as Norovirus, they are particularly aggressive on an enclosed cruise ship. They are not airborne viruses and can only be acquired by contact, so it's imperative to wash your hands frequently and use the sanitizers provided.

After undergoing another thorough cleaning and a final inspection, Ryndam left San Diego at 7 p.m. -- just two hours later than its scheduled 5 p.m. departure -- for its March 3rd Sea of Cortez sailing.

The ship is still observing the high-risk protocols required during an outbreak, according to Holland America spokesperson Erik Elvejord. There's no self-serve dining, no salt and pepper shakers on the table, a surfeit of hand sanitizers everywhere, and he recommends "bumping elbows in greeting rather than shaking hands."

--by Jana Jones, Cruise Critic Contributor