Gastrointestinal Illness Outbreak Onboard Crystal Cruise Ship

May 7, 2013

(2:45 p.m. EDT) A suspected case of Norovirus affected more than 15 percent of passengers onboard a recent Crystal Symphony sailing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, some 125 cruisers were struck with the gastrointestinal illness, as well as 22 crew members.

A representative with Crystal Cruises confirmed the outbreak to Cruise Critic. "Crew and guests with symptoms, as well as their stateroom companions, were isolated. Those with symptoms were treated through our medical center and the symptoms ran their course in 24 hours."

Stricter sanitation practices and continual communication with the CDC were also part of Crystal's response to the outbreak. An extra sanitation crew was hired in both San Francisco and Los Angeles where the cruise concluded May 6, to further sanitize every room. "To provide enough time for these measures, we delayed embarkation from 12 noon to 1 pm, but the ship departed on time," Crystal's rep said.

According to the CDC Web site, "Two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers boarded the ship on arrival in Los Angeles, CA on May 6, 2013 to conduct a targeted environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities."

Another recent outbreak of gastrointestinal illness onboard Cruise & Maritime Voyages' mv Discovery is delaying that ship's scheduled departure from Liverpool today.

A total of six major U.S. cruise ships have been affected by outbreaks so far in 2013, including 70 cases onboard Holland America's Veendam, which returned to Boston on May 4. Only three of these six outbreaks have been confirmed as Norovirus.

March seemed to be an active month for illness at sea. Is May shaping up to be the same?

--By Brittany Chrusciel, Editorial Assistant