Pride of Hawaii Pax Face Noro Outbreak

November 11, 2007

More than 150 passengers aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines' Pride of Hawaii fell ill onboard last week with suspected Norovirus. The ship, which was carrying 2,500 travelers, departed from Honolulu on Monday, and folks reportedly were coming down with the symptoms -- violent vomiting and diarrhea among them -- fairly soon thereafter.

Those who caught the bug were required to be quarantined in their cabins for 24 hours or so. That's fairly standard procedure among all cruise lines. The ship did not make a planned call at Maui Wednesday -- but that was due to an oil spill not related to Pride of Hawaii.

Cruise Critic members could, as always, be relied upon to provide details. Writes Whale-Watcher, "I am a nurse currently on vacation sailing on the Pride of Hawaii. Yes there is a Norwalk outbreak. The captain and the crew have been very honest about it. I see crew all over the ship with spray bottles wiping things down constantly. I went down to the medical center to volunteer my services and was told they had it all under control. They said the first cases were reported Monday night (the first night of the cruise). Since the Norwalk virus has a 72 hour incubation period that means that someone came onboard already sick."

"It's very easy to spread in a closed environment," she adds. "From what I am seeing NCL is handling this situation very well. The ship is not quarantined -- just the sick people. We got off yesterday and plan on going ashore today.

"As far as us missing a port, we missed Kahului (the port for Maui)on Wednesday due to a broken oil pipe in the harbor. We sailed around all day and saw the island of Molokai. We went to Kona yesterday, and are currently docked back in Kahului today. We may be hit with a few inconveniences, but we are having the time of our lives."

And indeed, as Cruise Critic member JWMCQ reports, autumn is an intense Noro time of year and the pesky and uncomfortable bug is not by any stretch of the imagination limited to passengers on cruise ships. "The stomach bug is also going around my kids' school and my workplace. About a fourth of the staff were out sick yesterday. I'm afraid it is just that time of year. From the reviews I noticed that it went around this time last year as well."

In a statement, NCL says that "Over the course of Pride of Hawaii’s seven-day inter-island Hawaii cruise that departed November 5, 2007 from Honolulu, approximately six percent of guests reported to the medical center with various symptoms of stomach flu. Symptoms included nausea, stomach cramps and mild diarrhea generally lasting 24 hours.

"Pride of Hawai`i has been carrying out an extensive range of preventative measures on board and does not expect this issue to carry forward into the next cruise. Passengers on the next cruise will be advised before boarding that a certain number of passengers on the prior cruise experienced symptoms of stomach flu and will be given an opportunity not to sail if they feel uncomfortable proceeding with their cruise at that point."

According to media reports, NCL is giving affected travelers a $200 onboard credit, and it's worthy to note that it's a goodwill gesture. The line is by no means required to offer any compensation.

Editor's Note: Unfortunately, Norovirus is a common bug these days and Cruise Critic's editorial policy about covering outbreaks is to focus on those considered major. But do know that such outbreaks, whether major, minor or somewhere in between, occur often on ships large and small (not to mention anywhere that's an enclosed space, making it easy for germs to spread. This includes airports, hospitals, schools, etc.).

The best way to ward off Norovirus is to sanitize your hands as often as possible. While most cruise lines make handwashing sanitizers very available, you won't find them at airports or on airplanes -- so be prepared and bring your own.

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor