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Cruise ship harbours gastro outbreak



More than 200 people were treated for gastrointestinal illness as ship docks in Hobart.

A cruise ship finishing its rounds in Australia has had an outbreak of gastro.

The incident came to light on Wednesday 6 December 2017 when the Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas docked in Hobart. In all, 209 people had been treated for gastrointestinal illness at varying times throughout the two-week journey from Singapore. This represents 3.4% of all people on board.

Sick passengers were treated with over-the-counter medication. According to ABC News, five passengers were transported to the hospital but Royal Caribbean claims these were not related to the outbreak.

The ship’s final destination is Sydney, where Royal Caribbean says the ship will be completely sanitised before its new guests can board.

“Upon arrival into port in Sydney, the ship and terminal will be comprehensively sanitised and cleansed to help prevent the spread of illness, resulting in a delay to boarding for new guests,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement.

Cruises are notorious for harbouring germs that can lead to gastrointestinal illness. This is because they create an environment where many people live together in close proximity and share many communal amenities like handrails, bathroom doors and buffets.

If you find yourself in the middle of an outbreak, there are some things you can do to prevent illness. The most important thing is to wash your hands religiously and have some hand sanitizer readily accessible. Avoid public bathrooms when possible, opting for the bathroom in your cabin instead. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

It's also important to honestly advise cruise ship authorities if you have experienced any recent symptoms prior to boarding. Passengers are typically given a form asking them to report any symptoms so that proper precautions can be taken. Failing to disclose this information could put everyone else on the ship at risk.

You should also consider cruise travel insurance, which provides many of the same benefits as standard travel insurance, but also provides certain cruise-specific benefits.

Symptoms of gastro include nausea, stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and headache. It usually goes away on its own and usually doesn’t require medication. However, those with weakened immune systems, such as seniors and young children are at larger risk.

Authorities have not said what caused the recent outbreak, but norovirus is the most common culprit in these cases.

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Picture: Shutterstock / jejim

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    PaulMarch 9, 2018

    Some gastro outbreaks on cruise ships are described as “epidemics”, yet many travel insurance policies exclude cover for epidemics. Does that mean that you have to be very careful about which travel insurance company you choose, or would all travel insurance companies that offer cruise cover honour any medical expenses on board regardless of how many other passengers were infected?

      JoshuaMarch 19, 2018Finder

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder.

      Each insurer has its own way of determining which one should be covered or which one is not. For this reason, it would be highly advisable to directly get in touch with your insurer to get personalized advice.

      Moreover, most insurers do cover gastro outbreaks. You can learn more about this through our guide on cruise travel insurance.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


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