If left unchecked, cruise ships can become perfect breeding grounds for germs and viruses—thousands of people are packed together in warm, humid conditions, often eating and drinking from communal serving trays and swimming in the same pools. Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, one of the largest cruises in the world, is experiencing this first hand as a norovirus outbreak forces the excursion to end early.
The cruise, which departed from Port Canaveral on Sunday, January 6, was carrying 6,780 passengers. By Thursday the tenth, 277 passengers and crew members had been diagnosed with the virus. In response to the outbreak, Royal Caribbean decided to bring the ship back into port on Saturday, January 12, a day ahead of schedule.
Rob Zeiger, chief communications manager for Royal Caribbean, issued a statement saying:
"We think the right thing to do is to get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health. Returning on Saturday also gives us more time to completely clean and sanitize the ship before her next sailing."
On Tuesday, January 8, passengers were barred from disembarking in Jamaica due to the outbreak, causing many complaints on social media:
@fox5dc Jamaica is smart for barring any passengers to disembark from the Oasis. People lie on their forms so they… https://t.co/zxNIgdGHnA— Starr loves animals but is no liberal (@Starr loves animals but is no liberal) 1547147988.0
Now announcing about 170 people sick with Norovirus. Jamaican government says no way anyone disembarks. Refunding… https://t.co/Z4zBOdQ8ne— Alan Thomas (@Alan Thomas) 1547064439.0
Update: No one is allowed to disembark from Oasis. Disney personnel categorically stated that they will pull out al… https://t.co/sNAH9UbWi4— AstroDK🇭🇺🇯🇲 (@AstroDK🇭🇺🇯🇲) 1547061332.0
The CDCdescribes norovirus as "a contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. People contract norovirus when they come into contact with contaminated food, surfaces, or other people who have it."
@MrBelal Crew all hands on deck cleaning, disinfecting. instances of guest vomiting in public spaces. Main dining… https://t.co/zR8ElRMsFF— Alan Thomas (@Alan Thomas) 1547070051.0
Royal Caribbean is giving a full refund to all passengers aboard to the cruise, but that hasn't stopped some of them from taking to social media to show what's happening onboard:
@MrBelal Exceptional food handling and disinfecting procedures implemented. Surfaces in guest areas being disinfec… https://t.co/Zl5ZfbIBLn— Alan Thomas (@Alan Thomas) 1547125313.0
Twitter users were certainly glad they weren't aboard the sick cruise!
@MyNews13 #1 reason I will never cruise 😥😥😥😥— Lisa Bisogne (@Lisa Bisogne) 1547297241.0
@wsvn @RubyBoobyy nvm, I don’t want to go anymore— Dustin Howard (@Dustin Howard) 1547143469.0
never cruise https://t.co/6Vm8HYNnl6— David Mack (@David Mack) 1547218712.0
@davidmackau No way. Not even if you paid me. All it takes is one person to go on an excursion or be sick already… https://t.co/mCZEIAZomH— Tina (@Tina) 1547218851.0
@davidmackau Why anyone would want to step foot on one of those is beyond me ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The visual of it alone ...— ORoth (@ORoth) 1547230966.0
@davidmackau the fact that this never happened to my ship ONCE makes me so eternally grateful they literally quar… https://t.co/wTU5DsfqRF— Sean Doherty (@Sean Doherty) 1547219155.0
Now begins the cleaning process to ensure the Oasis will be germ-free in time for its next trip! Outbreaks of this size are relatively rare and most passengers can cruise comforted by that knowledge.