Via CTV News: Passengers aboard ill-fated cruise ship recall experience: 'people sick everywhere'. Excerpt:
Passengers aboard a cruise ship on which hundreds fell ill recalled days of misery holed up in their rooms as it returned to its home port Wednesday from a Caribbean trip cut short by what is suspected to be among the largest such norovirus outbreaks in the last 20 years.
Travellers aboard the Explorer of the Seas recounted hundreds throwing up, and stricken passengers having food brought to their rooms. Others were served from covered buffets by crew members wearing gloves and masks during an outbreak that sickened nearly 700 passengers and crew on the ship operated by Royal Caribbean.
Kim Waite, 50, of London, England, was on the cruise with her husband, Fred, to celebrate the end of her cancer treatments. She got severely ill, and barely saw her husband the whole trip.
"My husband had to put me in a wheelchair and take me to the infirmary. The door opened on the lift and there were just hundreds of people being sick everywhere," she said. "They were throwing up in buckets and bags -- I started crying, I couldn't believe it. I was in shock.
"I've never wanted to go home so much in my life. I've never slept so much in my life, and I've got no sun tan."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its latest count puts the number of those sickened at 630 passengers and 54 crew members. The ship, on a 10-day cruise that had to be cut short, was carrying 3,050 passengers.
Health investigators suspect norovirus, but lab results are not expected until later this week. If norovirus is to blame, it would be one of the largest norovirus outbreaks on a cruise ship in the last 20 years, the CDC said. A 2006 norovirus outbreak on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship also sickened close to 700.
I am currently reading a book titled Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism, by Elizabeth Becker. The chapter on cruise ships does not paint an inviting picture. Becker tells us:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in the course of one day the average cruise ship produces: 21,000 gallon of human sewage, one ton of solid waste garbage, 170,000 gallons of wastewater from showers, sinks and laundry, 6,400 gallons of oily bilge water from the massive engines, 25 pounds of batteries, fluorescent lights, medical wastes and expired chemical, and 8,500 plastic bottles.
At any given moment, 400 cruise ships are moving around the seas. When you also factor in that cruise-ship waiters may be paid as little as US$50 a month plus tips, and may work for months without a day off, you can't expect ship personnel who can maintain rigorous hygiene even if they know what it is.