Cruise Ship Illnesses On The Rise, Companies Search For Answers

A dramatic rise in cruise ship illnesses has the industry working with the Centers for Disease Control to find a way to prevent the number of outbreaks.

There have been a spate of cruise ship illnesses crop up within the past few years, ones that spread quickly through passengers and often cause ships to race back to ports to attend to those stricken. The latest outbreak happened this week aboard the Crown Princess, with at least 66 passengers and 17 crew members coming down with a quickly spreading stomach bug.

The illness appears to be spreading quickly. Initial reports said that 37 passengers were sick.

Princess Cruises spokeswoman Karen Candy said on Wednesday that that the sick passengers had to be isolated in their rooms so the disease could not spread further. The ship’s operator said the illness may have been caused by the norovirus, and the ship has worked with the CDC to implement sanitation procedures in an attempt to stop the spread.

Norovirus is highly contagious and causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It has been blamed for a number of other cruise ship illnesses in recent months. Earlier this year, more than 600 passengers and crew members aboard a Royal Caribbean ship fell with the virus.

The cruise line later issued an apology, saying it was “unable to deliver the vacation [the] guests were expecting.”

Officials from the CDC boarded the ship when it docked in the US Virgin Islands, and it was later put through “extensive and thorough sanitizing” during a stop in Puerto Rico.

Another cruise ship illness hit in February, striking 114 passengers and 10 crew members aboard a Holland America ship.

According to the CDC, which tracks cruise ship illnesses, seven other cruise ships had outbreaks of norovirus in 2013 and 16 in 2012.