We have to admit that we don’t have a lot of love for the secular media. “If it smells, it sells” seems to be the byword more than ever nowadays and their rush to get the news out often leads to shoddy, sensationalized and inaccurate reporting. Perhaps that’s all our fault since we can easily get drawn in to the 24-hour news cycle that pushes reporters to put out copy before it can be verified.
So when you hear reports of Norovirus and people getting sick on a cruise, how seriously should you take it?
First, it should be pointed out that Norovirus occurs not just in the confined space of cruise ships but also in hotels, dormitories and other places where large groups of people gather in close company. It tends to be seasonal, running roughly from November through May in the Northern Hemisphere.
Second, the number of outbreaks on cruise ships has actually been declining. According the U.S. Center for Disease Control, in 2013 there were 7 incidents of Norovirus on cruise ships, involving 1,238 passengers. This from a country where an estimated 10 to 12 million passengers cruise from U.S. ports in a year, that makes the odds incredibly low that you will come down with it. Admittedly, 2014 is off to a roaring start with about 5 reported incidents already, but statistically if is highly unlikely that you will be struck with it.
Third, since these illnesses on cruise ships are tracked by authorities, they are far more likely to make headlines than outbreaks in hotels, resorts,etc. leading to the impression that they only occur on cruise ships.
Finally, you can check the inspection reports of the various cruise lines by going to the CDC website here. You will not only find inspection reports but also helpful suggestions to help you stay healthy on your cruise.
Bottom line? Well that old line about “you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than (whatever)” certainly applies here. The odds are very remote, so like anything in life you could have problems on your cruise, but Norovirus is probably not going to be one of them.