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Published 03/11/2015 10:01 PM   |    Updated 02/28/2019 06:00 PM

Norovirus is an extremely common and highly contagious virus which causes gastroenteritis. It is sometimes referred to as the '24-hour stomach bug'. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that Norovirus is the causative agent of some 23 million cases of gastroenteritis in the U.S. annually. The vast majority of outbreaks occur on land. Annually, less than 1 percent of all cruise ship passengers have been affected by Norovirus. Symptoms of Norovirus typically last one to three days and generally resolve without treatment. The most common means of transmission is through person-to-person contact and it can also be spread through food and water that an infected person has come in contact with. 

Through thorough and regular inspections, the CDC ensures that cruise ships operating from U.S. ports have superior food handling and sanitary practices on board the ships. The chief of the CDC Vessel Sanitation program has said that the standard by which cruise ships are held for sanitation is the highest in the world.

Should an outbreak occur, Carnival employs comprehensive cleaning and sanitizing efforts. Aggressive sanitizing helps stem the spread, which can occur when infected individuals come in contact with a surface and then others touch the same surface. Extensive and vigorous cleaning and disinfection of vessels with special cleaning agents are conducted to control any person-to-person spread via common surfaces.

Additionally, Carnival has developed a comprehensive video that runs on the in-cabin televisions aboard all of its ships. The video provides an overview of Norovirus, what the symptoms are, what to do if guests experience symptoms, and how to avoid contacting viruses while on vacation.

Additional information on Norovirus is available at the CDC’s website,

  • Carnival enforces the highest of standards for sanitation to prevent spread of infectious diseases, including Norovirus. 
  • Norovirus is an extremely common and highly contagious virus which causes gastroenteritis. The CDC estimates Norovirus causes 23 million cases of gastroenteritis in the U.S. annually. The vast majority of outbreaks occur on land. 
  • In addition to an aggressive protocol, we have well-trained medical staff and expansive reporting capabilities on board.
  • Extensive procedures are in place that are extremely effective in maintaining a healthy environment on our vessels.
  • We work with U.S. public health officials in the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program which includes unannounced inspections of our ships twice a year.
  • The vessel sanitation inspections are extremely thorough (more rigorous than land-based inspections) and we are very proud of our exemplary record.

In accordance with our health and safety practices, we encourage you to read the following information about gastroenteritis and how to minimize your chances of contracting this illness.

What is it? Gastroenteritis is a common illness that occurs any where people live or interact socially. Only the common cold is reported more frequently. It may cause the following symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, shivering, headache, fever, and abdominal pain. The illness is usually mild and self limiting, often managed without medical care and typically runs its course in 24 to 48 hours. However, because of the close contact shared on ships, it is very important that all cases of gastroenteritis be reported to the Ship's Medical Center on board to reduce the risk of spread.

How can it be prevented? The best precaution to avoid gastroenteritis is to practice frequent hand washing and a high standard of personal hygiene. The most effective step you can take to avoid infection is to wash your hands often with soap and warm water, and especially after using the restrooms, and before drinking, eating, smoking, putting on make-up or contact lenses. Please note that any alcohol based hand sanitizers that you may carry are not effective against gastroenteritis. While ashore, avoid eating raw uncooked fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood. Also, while ashore you should avoid drinks with ice. Drink only bottled water in ports and choose shore side restaurants carefully. If you contract gastroenteritis, we ask that you please notify the Ship's Medical Center immediately, confine yourself to your cabin, and in general limit your circulation with other guests to help prevent contagious spread.

What does treatment/management involve? We ask that you seek immediate assistance from the Ship's Medical Center, if you are suffering any combination of the above symptoms for more than a few hours. Treatment can involve a variety of approaches dependent on your specific symptoms and medical history. This can sometimes include anti-diarrhea drugs, anti-vomiting drugs, antispasmodics and antibiotics. Our medical team will also encourage plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, unless contraindicated by your medical history.

We continue to clean and sanitize the ship to the highest possible standards, and we are committed to doing all we can to safeguard the health of our guests and crew. If you have any additional concerns or questions, please contact the Medical Center or Guest Services.




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