(12:05 p.m. EST) — Oceania Riviera returned to Miami two days early from its most recent cruise Saturday, due to an outbreak of norovirus, so the ship could undergo sanitation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 119 of 1,225 passengers – or 9.72 percent – reported being ill on the trip, which left Miami on February 12. The number of crew who were sick is reported as 3 out of 773 (.39 percent).
In response to the outbreak, Oceania told the CDC that they have taken the following actions:
- Increased cleaning and disinfection procedures
- Collected stool specimens from sick passengers and crew.
- Sent a public health and sanitation manager and two physicians from Oceania’s corporate office, as well as additional crew and equipment, to oversee the response.
- Staged disembarkation of sick passengers separately from those who were well to limit transmission.
In addition, a CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officer and an epidemiologist boarded Riviera in Miami to conduct an assessment. Passengers on the next voyage, scheduled to leave Monday afternoon, were told that boarding would be delayed, according to the Cruise Critic boards.
Oceania Cruises has not yet responded to Cruise Critic’s request for comment but in a letter sent to travel agents that was shared on the site, Oceania Vice President Carlos Ortega said that passengers on the now-shortened cruise would be put up in hotels on Saturday and Sunday in Miami. These customers were given a refund of 25 percent of their cruise fare and future cruise credit of 25 percent of their fare, which must be redeemed by December 31, 2016 for cruises departing before February 28, 2017.
Several Cruise Critic members were on the ship during the outbreak, while others recalled that the same ship had a noro virus "Code Red" during its November 18 sailing, with 74 out of 1,160 passengers (6.38 percent) reporting ill. At that time, the ship was refused entry into Bermuda.
Those passengers who had planned to be on Riviera’s 10-night cruise to the Caribbean, slated to depart today from Miami, have been notified that the boarding will be slightly delayed.
On Cruise Critic’s forum, passengers impacted by the Norovirus-affected cruise have been posting. Noted iamthesea: "We have mixed feelings about our cruise terminating early, and certainly are not looking forward to spending two nights in a strange hotel where the only meals comped will be breakfast…the cruise has been hard to enjoy on a daily bases… the smells, wet and ruined clothes, poor service, etc. We ourselves have the unfortunate luck to be right outside of three staff service entrances that have been full of activity day and night and causing us difficulty in getting good quality rest. Buckets of disinfective are being carried in and out, plus left near our stateroom door as well as the next door cabin."
Reported Floatplan: "Crew now all wearing respirators, the best of the disposable kind, heavy duty looking… The smell inside the ship, especially in elevators, is unpleasant often."
On the Cruise Critic roll call for the voyage departing today, passengers were staying upbeat. "Not happy about the news of Noro Virus being aboard the last cruise, but maybe that’s better for us. They’ll get it all cleaned up and ready for a pristine cruise," wrote HeatherInFlorida.
Norovirus is a gastrointestinal illness that causes flulike symptoms, including vomiting, low-grade fever and diarrhea. It spreads quickly when many people are confined to a small area, such as a cruise ship — but also hotels, schools and hospitals. The best way to avoid catching the illness is to wash your hands thoroughly before and after eating and when you use the bathroom. For more information on norovirus, read our Editors’ Tips: Norovirus – What You Need to Know.