Norovirus breakouts are very common, and only the common cold exceeds its occurrence. It usually affects large groups of people living in closed quarters, ship cruises, dorms, schools and nursing homes, ideal Norovirus grounds despite thorough cleanliness.

What is Norovirus and How to be Safe during a Cruise

The Norovirus is not deadly and rarely causes any permanent damage. It is marked with nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting. Sometimes the patient may report fever with chills or headaches accompanied with muscle aches. The symptoms last for a short period of 1-3 days but a person may remain contagious for up to 2 weeks.

Modes of Infection

Consumption of contaminated food and beverages, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus and then placing the fingers in mouth or other orifices of the body, direct contact with infected people or those who are showing symptoms are the common modes of  communication of Norovirus transmission.


Like the common cold, there is no prescribed anti-biotic and the patient has to wait for the infection to run its course. The virus does not have a vaccination to prevent it either.  The infected person should consume plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and avoid contact with others to prevent transmitting the infection to them.


Clean hands are the key to prevention of Norovirus infection while traveling. It is imperative to wash hands thoroughly before every meal to prevent transfer of infection. Many ships have alcohol based rinse devices placed outside buffet halls to encourage the guests to have clean hands before eating. Avoid touching surfaces like handrails, public washroom doorknobs and handles directly.

Use tissues to open doors when leaving the toilets. Wash hands as often as possible to keep them clean. When possible use knuckles to press the buttons inside elevators and to operate touch screens and beverage dispensers.

It is equally important to disinfect after a bout of Norovirus infection. Disinfection and cleaning of contaminated surfaces must be done with bleach based cleaning agent. Clothes and linen that have been exposed to an infected person should be removed immediately and washed with soap and hot water. The stools and vomitus should be flushed into the toilet.

Choice of Cruise Ships

All the cruise ships follow a strict cleanliness routine and are thoroughly disinfected after any episode or before a cruise. The choice of ship makes no difference to the chances of infection by the Norovirus.  Just because an episode of Norovirus infection was reported on a cruise ship, it does not increase the chances of another episode will occur on the same ship. Cancelling a trip may turn out expensive, as travel insurance does not cover cancellation of tickets.


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