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Beware the norovirus

Winter is a time for hot chocolate, warm socks, sledding, and holiday celebrations, but it’s also the time when many of us succumb to colds. We sniffle and cough at home, in the office, and in the shopping malls. But if your winter cold looks more like a gastrointestinal virus, please don’t take it with you on your cruise vacation.

Sadly, some Royal Caribbean and Princess passengers or crew members didn’t follow this advice. According to the AP and other news outlets, the Freedom of the Seas recently succumbed to norovirus outbreaks on two consecutive sailings. The ship was held in Miami yesterday, delaying its next sailing, so it could receive a more intensive cleaning.

The Sun Princess also experienced a small norovirus outbreak, though its subsequent voyage was not delayed. The ship was cleaned thoroughly in port, but did not require an extra day for disinfection.

Could these outbreaks be the result of bad cleaning or cooking practices by the crew? Of course. If a cook or server doesn’t wash his hands frequently, germs can quickly spread. But it’s just as likely that sick passengers bring the norovirus onboard.

There are two easy things you can do to help fight the norovirus. The first is to take one for the team and not board a cruise ship with a stomach bug. You may ruin your own vacation, but you won’t be ruining the vacations of hundreds of other people. The second is to wash your hands. If you follow good hygiene practices onboard, you’ll be less likely to contract or spread the norovirus.

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