Queen Victoria's Maiden Bout -- With Norovirus

December 31, 2007

Cunard's Queen Victoria, which only just debuted last month to much pomp and circumstance, is reporting its first major bout with Norovirus. According to media reports, 80 passengers on the 90,000-ton, 2,014-passenger ship had taken ill.

Norovirus is a highly contagious gastrointestinal flu that causes vomiting and diarrhea. It typically comes on quite suddenly -- and lasts about one and a half days. The virus is a common plague in enclosed places -- like hospitals, schools, shopping malls, restaurants and, yes, cruise ships.

At this point, only about a third of the passengers who got sick are still ill; the rest have recovered. Typically, cruise lines have protocols and procedures in place when occurrences start to multiply. Because the virus is spread most easily through hand-to-hand contact, the line supplied bottles of hand sanitizer at entrances to places like the gangway, dining rooms, public restrooms and the casino.

Most cruise lines require passengers who come down with Norovirus to be quarantined in their cabins until it's worn off. Passengers are served meals and such via room service, and typically, special quarantine teams clean their cabins. As well, onboard medical centers are equipped to handle patient needs.

Because Norovirus outbreaks are so common, Cruise Critic usually only covers them when more than 10 percent of passengers and crew are affected -- or in the case of a particularly unusual situation. In this case, the Queen Victoria outbreak is included more because the ship is so new than because of the outbreak's outreach.

Want to know more about Norovirus? Check out these stories:

Norovirus: What You Need to Know

Demystifying the Myths of Norovirus

From the Bridge: The Scourge of Norovirus

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief