Skift Take

These voyages stand out for the particularly high percentages of ill passengers onboard, but the cases give no further insights into how to stop outbreaks from happening in the future.

There have been multiple norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships over the last month, but how big of a concern is this for potential cruisers?

In the past ten years, only nine cruise virus outbreaks have caused more than 20 percent of passengers to become ill. This according to data reported the CDC.

The worst case was in 2008 onboard the American Canadian Cruise Grand Caribe when almost half, or 43 percent, of passengers became ill.

There were only 63 passengers onboard which explains the high percentage, but no other outbreak in the past twenty years has crossed the 30 percent threshold in that time period.

There were less than 150 passengers onboard during four of nine worst outbreaks, leading to shockingly high percentages.

However, it’s the outbreak was likely even more evident since passengers more easily noticed how many of their fellow cruisers became ill.

Double Trouble

Two of the worst cruise ship outbreaks in the past decade happened onboard Celebrity Cruises Mercury.

Approximately 22 percent of passengers fell ill on the ship on two separate voyages in 2010. The first time 293 of 1,163 cruisers were reported ill on a 30-day journey. The second time 411 of 1,83 cruisers were reported ill on a 11-day trip.

Below is statistics on the nine cruisers where more than 20 percent of passengers fell ill during a virus outbreak:

Year Cruise Line Ship Cruisers Reported Ill (%) Cruisers Reported Ill (#) Total Cruisers (#) Cause Length of Voyage
2008 American Canadian Cruise Line Grande Caribe 43% 29 68 Norovirus 12
2011 Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Sea Lion 28.87% 17 61 Unknown 7
2010 Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Balmoral 25.19% 293 1163 Unknown 30
2010 Celebrity Cruises Mercury 22.43% 411 1833 Norovirus 11
2007 Cruise West Spirit of Nantucket 22.22% 8 36 Unknown 7
2005 Holland America Line Ryndam 22.2% 272 1223 Norovirus 16
2010 Celebrity Cruises Mercury 22.1% 406 1829 Norovirus 11
2014 Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Explorer of the Seas 20.6% 634 3071 Unknown 10
2003 Windjammer Barefoot Cruises Legacy 20.54% 22 107 Specimens not obtained 7

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Tags: cdc, health, norovirus

Photo credit: The Royal Caribbean International's Explorer of the Seas is docked at Charlotte Amalie Harbor in St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Thomas Layer / AP Photo

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