E. Coli Outbreak in Europe: Cruise Lines Monitoring Situation 'Extremely Carefully'

June 3, 2011
ecoli-outbreak-europe (Updated June 5, 8:30 a.m. EDT) -- With more than a dozen dead and hundreds ill, a super-toxic strain of E. coli continues to cause alarm throughout Europe. Though the center of the outbreak appears to be in Germany, most of the continent is on watch for the deadly bacteria.

Cruise Critic has been reaching out to the lines with Europe-based ships to see how they are responding to the outbreak. Most recently, Princess Cruises says in a statement that the line will not serve raw fruits and vegetables on its ship-sponsored shore excursions in Germany. It is also advising passengers exploring German ports independently to avoid consuming the same. So far, though, other lines still appear to be taking a watch-and-see attitude. Holland America sources have told us that there are some changes in the works with regard to menus, though there has been no impact on supply chains that serve Holland America or Seabourn. Similarly, a P&O Cruises spokeswoman provided us this statement: "All Carnival UK ships have stringent policies and controls in place surrounding food handling and hygiene ... and we can confirm that no sources of fresh produce supplied to our ships have been implicated in the outbreak. We are monitoring the E.coli outbreak extremely carefully and there have been no cases of illness associated with cruise ships." She went on to say that the line has provided "specific advice to all of our ships regarding the importance of E.coli prevention and have put further measures in place during this time."

For its part, Royal Caribbean is also reporting no troubles at this time. Spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told us in an e-mail that "we have one central supplier that provides all of the produce for all our ships in Europe. This allows us to trace back all our produce sources, so that we know exactly where they come from. Our supplier in the region has confirmed that we have not received any of the contaminated product to any of our ships." Thomson Cruises has also not adjusted any of its menus. A spokeswoman told Cruise Critic that the line “has been in discussions with food and beverage suppliers to all of our ships. While our suppliers are unable to make firm assurances, we can confirm that our supplies are not sourced from Germany, nor do any of our ships sail near Germany." We'll be keeping our eyes on the situation as well.

-- by John Deiner, Managing Editor, and Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Editorial Assistant