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Illness Outbreaks at Sea by Royal Caribbean International

Events by Ship:

Illness Outbreaks by Ship:

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The events listed have been reported in the public domain or to cruisejunkie by passengers or crew members onboard.  The list is by no means comprehensive.  For that reason it is necessary to be cautious in drawing conclusions from the potentially limited data.  Keep in mind that some companies may be more transparent than others about things that go wrong; conversely, some companies may be better at concealing events and thereby project an appearance that is inaccurate.  With that said, the following list is still interesting, as are the patterns seen viewed separately by ship.

March 8 Vision of the Seas WPTV reports the ship returned to Port Everglades today after an outbreak of more than 100 cases of norovirus on board. "Vision of the Seas experienced an elevated number of persons with a gastrointestinal illness on its last sailing," Royal Caribbean International said in a statement. 105 of the 1,991 guests onboard the cruise and three of 772 crew members experienced the illness, officials said. Over-the-counter medication was administered onboard the ship. CDC reports the numbers were 118 of 1991 passengers (5.93%) and 3 of 765 crew (0.39%).
November 24 Voyager of the Seas New Zealand media reports crew members are battling a suspected norovirus outbreak among passengers. An unofficial Royal Caribbean blog website, written by supporters of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, reported about 135 passengers became sick during an 18-day cruise of Australia and New Zealand which ended in Sydney last Thursday night. The ship's captain was guarded when asked for comment about the health problems on board ship while at sea last Thursday. ''I do not want to talk about that. We are following the procedures when it comes to that," he said.
November 20 Voyager of the Seas Cruise Law News reports a number of people have contacted us, including one passenger "Nancy" from Australia, complaining about a recent, major norovirus outbreak on the Voyager of the Seas. She writes: "The Voyager of Seas has relocated to Asia Pacific region husband and I sailed on the relocation cruise from Singapore 22nd Oct 2012 to Fremantle Australia. There was Norovirus outbreak around 800 passengers affected undetermined number with chest infection, one Norovirus victim airlifted . . . The ships doctor was swamped with sick passengers couldn't cope turned people away untreated. Cabins were sanitized once during the 14 night cruise and measures taken to fight the infection cabins sanitized as we left the ship ,very hard to fight when there are 3000+ people in one place." There are estimates that12% of passengers have fallen ill.
October 28 Rhapsody of the Seas From a passenger: The ship has seen a 15 percent GI outbreak in guests and 3.5 percent of crew. The ship is sailing in the South Pacific so data will not be reported to the CDC. The Fiji Broadcast Corporation reports the ship was initially quarantined during its port call at Denarau, Nadi.
August 31 Rhapsody of the Seas The CDC reports 153 of 2129 passengers (7.19%) and 6 of 812 crew (0.74%) have reported ill with gastrointestinal illness. CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program is collaborating with Health Canada’s Travelling Public and Conveyances Program, which sent two inspectors to meet the ship in Victoria, BC prior to the ship’s arrival in Seattle, WA on August 31, 2012.The ship was on a 7 day cruise to Alaska.
August 5 Brilliance of the Seas From a passenger: RE: sailing from Copenhagen to the Norwegian Fjords. During the evening of 29th July, day 2 of 7, after the first formal night a number of people, including myself were taken ill with a GI problem. By 8.30am the medical centre had dealt with, they say, ‘a few other passengers’ with the same problem. By mid-day the ship was undertaking special cleaning arrangements and I was one of those confined to the cabin – I was clear by 1pm on day 4. The captain announced at every opportunity the precautions to be taken and passengers getting back on after trips ashore were given letters explaining the situation - the ship handled the problem very well, including stopping all vacuuming of the carpets, sanitising every surface they could regularly, and stopping any hand-shaking with crew. On the last day our baggage was isolated from the others. It is interesting to note that I went back to the medical centre to say thank you for the way they looked after me and caught sight of the size of the file containing the paperwork involved; I would say only about 30 people had reported a problem, I am however convinced many more did not say anything to avoid being confined to their cabin.
March 6 Independence of the Seas From a passenger: We have just returned today 06.03.12 from an 11 day cruise on Independence of the Seas. We were asked to check in late (15.30), by email. We were left standing in corridors, the check in lounge and even outside for about three hours.They kept apologising for the delay over and over again. While we were on the ship the staff were constantly sanatizing all handrails chairs and tables, the shops were sprayed every night.Each time someone entered the toilet a voice would say"Stop don't forget to wash your hands".When you sat down to dinner then someone would announce that we were on a high state of alert for Norovirus and to please wash your hands.We were handed wipes each time you entered a venue.We were not allowed to put condiments on our food the waiters etc had to do it for you.They even had to put the milk in you coffee and handed you sugar packets with tongs. We felt like lepers and it spoiled the whole holiday. I must say that the crew had to work extra hard but they always had a smile for us, but they must all be shattered.
February 28 Independence of the Seas Cruise Ship News reports "we can break some exclusive news that has come to us thanks to a few reports, which were received by email and pointed us to a Norovirus outbreak on Independence of the Seas this month. It’s alleged that the Norovirus outbreak happened during the last week, and some cruise passengers that got back to Southampton yesterday state there was an “outbreak of Norovirus during the second week” of the cruise ... While yet to be officially verified it’s alleged that thecrew “pulled out all the stops cleaning everything down“, and officers made sure crew cleaned the lifts, hand rails, tables, chairs, and more with “disinfectant packs on their backs“ ... Other rumors point to a deep clean taking place after they were in port; again this has not been confirmed. Update: We’ve had an email from someone who has family currently on Independence of the Seas and they state that the sail away was delayed, which adds to the possibility of a deep clean yesterday to stop the virus from remaining onboard. From a passenger: We sailed on the Independence voyage 2 Feb 2012 and 3 days into the cruise there was a norovirus outbreak. Letter was issued to cabin to take care. The Windjammer staff wore rubber gloves and carried bottles of disinfectant about, as soon as someone left a table they wiped down all the chairs and table immediately. Also were handing out wipes at the pier when reboarding and at the main dining rooms. Still people do manage to bypass these precautions. Sounds like the Indy has an ongoing problem at the moment.
December 31 Mariner of the Seas The following message was sent on December 22 to passengers booked for the cruise from Galveston, 12/26/2011 to 01/02/2012: We are contacting you to provide you with important information regarding your sailing on Mariner of the Seas on Monday, December 26, 2011. During Mariner of the Seas' last sailing, a number of guests onboard experienced gastrointestinal illness.  In an abundance of caution, we are conducting enhanced sanitizing onboard the ship and within the cruise terminal to help prevent any illness from affecting your cruise. Because of this additional sanitizing, the check in and boarding process is now anticipated to take place between 2:00 p.m and 5:00 pm.  We sincerely apologize for this delay. Due to the limited seating in the cruise terminal in Galveston, Texas, please do not arrive at the pier before 2:00 pm on Monday.   As a gesture of goodwill, and to thank our guests for their understanding and cooperation, Royal Caribbean will provide each guest with a $20 credit to their onboard account to cover lunch in Galveston and any incidental cost they might incur due to the delay in boarding.  
November 27 Oasis of the Seas NBC Miami reports dozens of peoplehad a gastrointestinal illness, but the ship was sanitized as has since set sail on another cruise, the company said. The ship completed the Caribbean trip on Saturday at Port Everglades. During the trip, 54 guests and 10 crew members fell ill with what was thought to be Norovirus, the company said in an email statement. The people were treated with over-the-counter medication aboard the ship. The crew sanitized the ship in the port to avoid spreading the illness, and the vessel left port again on Saturday and is on a seven-day cruise through the western Caribbean.
January 7 Radiance of the Seas The CDC reports 153 of 2336 passengers (6.42%) and 3 of 861 crew (0.35%) have reported ill with gastrointestinal illness. The ship arrives in Tampa, Florida January 8th following a five-day cruise that began January 3. The following cruise on January 8th will leave 5 hours later than scheduled in order to accommodate sanizing the ship.
25.6.10 Jewel of the Seas The Daily Gazette reports passengers have been struck by norovirus for the second time in a month. More than 80 people were said to be suffering symptoms of the norovirus when it docked yesterday. Earlier this month, 292 guests and 16 crew contracted the illness. Passengers due to join the ship this week were told it would be sailing later than planned to allow the vessel to be thoroughly cleaned.
26.5.10 Indpendence of the Seas and VG Nett have both reported that 134 passengers have reported ill with norovirus on the current cruise. The ship returns to Southampton May 29th from a 14-day cruise that included Spain and Portugal. Roundtownnews reports the captain decided to dock the ship at Cádiz, after setting off from Southampton on 15th May. An official team of cleaners entered the ship and disinfected it while the passengers were away. The ship continued on its voyage to Lisbon.
26.5.10 Vision of the Seas VG Nett reports for the fourth cruise in a row passengers are reporting ill with gastrointestinal illness. So far 22 passengers are known to have become ill. The ship has been referred to as "Vision of Disease" and the head of Oslo School of Management is quoted as saying that the numerous outbreaks and massive media coverage is a serious blow for Royal Caribbean's reputation in Norway.
18.5.10 Vision of the Seas reports 40 people have reported ill on the currect cruise. This is the third cruise in a row with an outbreak of gastrointentinal illness. UPDATE May 19: reports the number reporting ill is now 75.
18.5.10 Navigator of the Seas A passenger writes: My wife and I were on the ship from 5-6-10 to 5-18-10 and we both became ill after our stop in Cairo. I am upset because we were told by a crew member that "Oh, when we heard we were going to stop in Cairo again we knew we were going to be busy." S/he also said that most of the people who went on the "Pyramids and Nile Cruise" excursion (which we did) became ill from eating at the restaurant they (RCCL) chose. It upsets me that we relied on them to bring us to a safe place to eat and  they did not warn us that people got sick on the last excursion to Cairo. Is it standard compensation for them to just give a credit for the day(s) you are quarantined? They are offering to give my wife a credit for the one day she was officially quarantined. (We were both sick for at least 4-5 days, but only my wife filled out the forms in the infirmary).  
10.5.10 Vision of the Seas reports at least 80 passengers have reported ill on the current cruise. The ship left Oslo last Thursday and yesterday was in Dublin. It returns to Oslo Saturday. UPDATE MAY 19: reports the number of people reporting ill on the cruise was 296.
5.5.10 Vision of the Seas The Times of India reports 94 people were stricken with vomiting and diarrhea while on a five-day voyage around northern Europe. It was the third outbreak of gastrointestinal illness in three months aboard the ship. reports the number ill by the end of the cruise was more than 300 people.


Vision of the Seas Associated Press reports nearly 50 passengers have been stricken with vomiting and diarrhea, a health official said Friday. "At least 47 passengers on the Vision of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean International, were stricken by what we believe are noroviruses that cause gastroenteritis," a spokesman for the Brazilian National Agency for Sanitary Vigilance said. The ship, docked in the port of Santos, was not placed under quarantine and the nearly 2,000 passengers aboard were allowed to leave since "no one was seriously ill and there was no danger of the disease spreading." It was the ship's first cruise since last week when 310 people came down with gastroenteritis caused by noroviruses, the spokesman said. The ship will be cleansed again "but now that we are pretty sure that noroviruses are again to blame, we know what kind of cleaning agents to use," the spokesman said.
9.3.10 Radiance of the Seas San DIego News Network reports the ship is experiencing a norovirus outbreak. It does not indicate the number person effected.
3.3.10 Jewel of the Seas The CDC reports that 102 of 2158 passengers (4.7%) and 14 of 848 crew (1.6%) have reported ill with gastrointestinal illness. The ship arrives at Miami March 5th from an 11 day cruise.
3.3.10 Vision of the Seas (Brazil) reports the ship was held today in Buzios, in the Lake District, after 195 people showed signs of vomiting and diarrhea. The National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) prevented all passengers and crew from leaving the vessel until the authorities discover the reason for the outbreak. The ship has 1987 passengers and 765 crew on board. The ship began its its seven day cruise in Santos on March 1, with stops scheduled in Buzios and Ilhabela. UPDATE: Associated Press reports the ship has been quarantined by Brazilian authories. Brazil's National Agency for Sanitary Vigilance says at least 310 people have been suffering symptoms from some kind of food poisoning. The ships is expected to leave Buzios later today.
12.4.09 Freedom of the Seas From a passenger: The cruise running March 29 to April 5 had 100 cabins hits with norovirus outbreak. I was on next sailing  starting April 5 which had "code red" situation. Lasted first 3 days. Extensive cleaning, sanitizing etc. Seem to have worked. Didn't hear about any new cases. Breathing bleach, chlorine and purel all day  can't be to healthy.
Rhapsody of the Seas From a passenger: I recently cruised from Vancouver to Sydney.  28 days.  10 days into the cruise a lot of people began getting very sick.   Flu like symptoms.  Very bad throat and cough.  At one stage there was over a 2 hr wait to see a medico at the ship infirmary.  The ship ran out of throat lozenges that they were telling people to take.  And the medical staff appeared to be overwhelmed and unprepared to deal with the scale of the outbreak. The only thing that saved me -- I was in the medical profession all my life) -- was I would lie up on the deck in the fresh air, unlike other passengers who would remain in their cabin, breathing the recirculating air.  For 18 days of the 28 day cruise I felt like crap and didn't do much at all. NOTE: Influenza outbreaks are periodically a problem on cruise ships.
Empress of the Seas A passenger reports there was an outbreak of gastrointstinal illness on the second day of sailing that ended today. Per the Captain, there were 140+ effected. Very high level of cleaning and passing out of hand wipes. I have no idea what % of the pax or crew was really involved. I was in lockdown for 2 days as 2 of 3 in my cabin had it. The ship was on a 12 day cruise of the Southern Caribbean.
9.2.07 Empress of the Seas The ship reported that 10 (1.45%) crew and 48 (3.06% passengers had reported ill on a 12 day cruise to/from San Juan (Puerto Rico).  Symptoms were consistent with gastrointestinal illness (e.g., norovirus)
Liberty of the Seas The ship reported that 10 of 1425 (0.75%) crew members and 172 of 3846 (4.47%) passengers had reported ill on a 7 day Caribbean cruise from Miami (26 May - 2 June).   Because of the illness outbreak, boarding begins at 6:00 pm tomorrow (rather than normal time) and ship departure will be at 10:00 pm Saturday evening following a complete CDC scrub down.  Reportedly, rmbarking passengers will be refunded $25 for lunch and 100% refund if they choose to cancel. UPDATE:  Local 6-TV in Orlando says a company statement puts the numbers at 200 passengers and 12 crew members.
Freedom of the Seas
The ship reported that 11 crew and 97 passengers had reported ill on the  3 - 10 December cruise from Miami.   The CDC recommended the ship not sail for 48 hours due to three consecutive voyages with a high number of illnesses.  The cruise scheduled for 10 December will depart 12 December with port calls at Montego Bay and Labadee.
Freedom of the Seas

The ship reported that 24 of 1402 (3.28%) crew and 338 of 3823 (8.84%) passengers had reported ill on the  26 November - 3 December cruise from Miami.   Symptons were consistent with gastrointestinal illness (e.g., norovirus)
Serenade of the Seas

From a passenger: Ship left San Juan PR 18 November (Saturday) ... we received a letter that if we needed medical assistance because of a flu, cold or gastrointestinal illness, medical services would be complementary.  On Monday the Captain announced there were 55 cases of gastrointestinal illness.  My 10 year old son got it on Wednesday night and we were confined to the room until disembarkation 25 November.  On Thursday a nurse said they attended 80 people that day alone; the outbreak of norovirus affected around 135 people about 5% (and those are reported cases only).  Many passengers didn't report being ill when they learned they'd be confined to the room for 48 hours.  CDC Report:  3 of 848 crew (0.35%) and 101 of 2241 passengers (4.51%) reported ill.
Adventure of the Seas

From a passenger:  We just returned from a 7 night southern carribean cruise (Nov 5-12). Many reports of illness circulated among the passengers -- the shows were pretty empty and the deck was pretty empty as well. On the fifth or sixth day, passengers received a letter stating that an abnormally large number of passengers had become ill but they didn't think there would be any adverse effect on the cruise. There were multiple reports of passengers quarantined to their rooms. When we returned to the ship in St Maarten, the family in front of us were told to report directly to the medical facility. That night, our wait staff said the CDC was returning for a second visit during that cruise. Our stateroom attendant said she was with the ship for five years and had never seen so many stricken. There was no notification to the passengers of the severity of the outbreak.  The CDC subsequently reported that 1 of 1174 (0.08%) crew and 129 of 3260 (3.96%) passengers had reported ill with symptoms consistent with norovirus.
Serenade of the Seas

The ship reported that 9 of 854  (1.05%) crew and 68 of 2023 (3.36%) passengers had reported ill on the  29 October - 11 November cruise from San Diego (California) to San Juan (Puerto Rico).  Symptons were consistent with gastrointestinal illness (e.g., norovirus)
Radiance of the Seas The ship reported that 12 of 870  (1.37%) crew and 227 of 2131 (10.66%) passengers were ill.  The symptoms were consistent with gastrointestinal illness (e.g., norovirus).  The 7 day Alaska cruise  will end in Seward on September 9.
Mariner of the Seas

There was an outbreak of what appears to be norovirus.  328 of 3660 passengers (8.96%) and 6 of 1202 crew members (0.5%) reported illness.  The ship returns to Port Canaveral on Sunday from a seven day cruise in the Caribbean.  The ship's last outbreak was in January 2005.
Explorer of the Seas

On April 30, the ship reported that 15 of 1188 (1.26%) crew and 117 of 3292 (3.6%) passengers were ill.  The predominant symptoms were vomiting and diarrhea.  The 7 day cruise arrived in Miami, from where it left on April 23.
Radiance of the Seas

Passengers returning from the April 9-16 cruise report there was a norovirus outbreak during the cruise.  A letter was received midweek from the captain saying there was an outbreak and there would be increased cleaning procedures.  The ship’s crew kicked into high gear. We were served buffet items by crew members instead of self serve.  I overheard a crew member being told by his supervisor to not shake hands with anyone.  Cleaning procedures were very obvious and frequent, even to the point that use of hand sanitizers were required before and after using the rosk climbing wall.
Grandeur of the Seas On March 16, the ship reported that 25 (3.32%) crew and 20 (0.85%) passengers were ill.  The ship was on a 5-day cruise from Tampa to Costa Maya and Cozumel.
Grandeur of the Seas

On March 8, 2006, RCI reported to the CDC that an elevated number of passengers and crew were experiencing symptoms that were consistent with acute gastroenteritis. The predominant symptom is diarrhea amd vomiting.  On March 11, the ship reported that 11 of 754 (1.46%) crew and 130 of 2263 (5.74%) passengers were ill.  The ship was on a 5-day cruise from Tampa to Costa Maya and Cozumel.  More than 100 passengers were confined in their rooms when the ship was in Cozumel because Mexican officials were afraid the virus would spread on land.
Explorer of the Seas

On February 28, 2006, RCI reported to the CDC  that an elevated number of Explorer of the Seas passengers and crew were experiencing symptoms consistent with acute gastroenteritis.  On March 4, the ship reported that 19 of 1184 (1.60%) crew were and 243 of 3252 (7.47%) passengers were ill. The predominant symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting.  The cruise began February 26 and ends March 5 in Miami.
From a passenger:  I just got off of that cruise. About 25 out of the 60 in our group was sick. There were also a lot more people sick than they stated. I was recovering waiting in the nurses station on Tuesday when they declared it an epidemic and that the ship was on red alert.  The last bit I had heard was that there were close to 400 cabins listed as under a 24 hour quarantine by Wednesday.  People we talked to had stopped reporting to the infirmary for fear of not being able to disembark on any of the islands when they were feeling better.
Splendor of the Seas The CDC has reported that 135 of 1609 passengers (8.48%) and 12 of 724 crew (1.65%) have reported ill with symptoms consistent with norovirus.  The 14 day cruise began in Barcelona and ended November 26 in Galveston.
Jewel of the Seas Passengers on the cruise ending today (June 20 - July 2) in Harwick (England) report more than 100 passengers became ill with diarrhea and vomiting.  One passenger says a staff person in the medical centre said that many of the crew had it and had had it on the previous cruise.  Another says her daughter's blood test indicated a bacterial source for the disease which suggests food or water contamination, though descriptions provided suggest the source of the outbreak was noro or similar virus.  It is unlikely that further information will be made available given that the ship is not required to contact or provide information to the Centers for Disease Control because it was operating outside the US.
Voyager of the Seas Several passengers (including postings at Cruise Critic) have said there was an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness on the May 15th cruise.  Some passenger say the number affected exceeds 100, but officially this has not been designated an outbreak by the CDC which requires that at least 3% of passengers report ill (in Voyager's case, more than 100).  I have received e-mail saying there was also illness on the cruise beginning May 22.

Here are numbers provided by the CDC:  May 15 - 22:  45 pax, 14 crew reported ill; May 22 - 29: 85 pax and 14 crew.  These are less than 3%, but still substantial numbers.
Empress of the Seas The CDC reports that 68 of 1,544 passengers (4.4%) and 5 of 685 crew members (.7%) so far have reported  ill during the January 17 - 28 cruise based from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Mariner of the Seas The ship is set to dock at Port Canaveral on January 23 at the end of a western Caribbean cruise.  276 of 3,465 passengers (7.9%) and 27 of 1,190 crew members (2.2%) were reportly sickened by Norwalk-like virus.
8.1.05 Enchantment of the Seas The ship returned to Port Everglades from a 5-day cruise on which 103 of 2,136 passengers (4.82%) and 8 of 756 crew (1.06%) reported illness from a Norwalk-like virus.
Serenade of the Seas Received from a reader re: 9/26 - 10/4 cruise:
On  10/4, the ship brought out sanitizing methods. thorough ship cleaning by crew, and hand sanitizers at the ships entrance and Windjammer cafe. It was personally reported from a relative of a crew member that several passengers had become ill with an intestinal virus and were quarantined for 72 hours.  We witnessed a few passengers that were missing from their assigned tables for a couple of nights.. In addition, the main pool was closed down for the last two days of the cruise after a passenger defecated and vomited in the pool.  Signs were posted around the pool that due to a fecal accident, the pool would be closed.  The Solarium pool was packed as a result. The Serenade was in port with the Veendam near the end of the cruise, so the above precautions could have been due to any contact a Serenade passenger may have had with a Veendam passenger.
Serenade of the Seas
On June 13, the ship reported that 71 passengers and 9 crew had reported illness consistent with norovirus.  The cruise ran from June 6 - 13, ending in Vancouver.

Brilliance of the Seas
The ship, on a ten day Caribbean cruise, reported that 78 passengers and 16 crew had reported gastrointestinal illness likely caused by Norovirus.
Empress of the Seas CDC reports that 71 (4.59%) passengers and 53 (0.73%) crew had reported being ill.
Rhapsody of the Seas
First reported that 63 passengers became ill with what appears to be Norwalk-like virus.  The number was revised to 72 by RCI, but passengers claim the numbers are much higher because people didn't report being ill given the quarantine policy.
Majesty of the Seas
Reported that 71 passengers and 10 crew were sickened by Norwalk-like virus on this four day Caribbean cruise.  37 passengers who chose to disembark a day early were taken from Key West to Miami.
Brilliance of the Seas
There were 42 cases of gastrointestinal illness reported during this cruise, however the true count according to Flagship Cruises was in the hundreds.  "It would appear as though hundreds did not report their illlness due to a rumor (via staff and crew) that if you reported your illness you would be confined and/or quarantined to your quarters."
Monarch of the Seas
Approximately 100 passengers and crew were reported to have contracted Norwalk-like virus during the previous cruise.
Radiance of the Seas
About 46 passengers (and seven crew) aboard a three day cruise from Vancouver to Seattle became violently ill with stomach and intestinal problems -- passengers onboard claimed many more got sick.  Some were outraged when the cruise line tried to bill them for medical expenses -- one passenger was billed $1073 for an IV drip.
2001 and earlier
Vision of the Seas
CDC reports an illness outbreak ... no additional details.
Legend of the Seas
CDC reports an illness outbreak (Norwalk virus) ... no additional details.
Viking Serenade
CDC reports an illness outbreak (Shigella flexneri) ... more than 600 passengers and crew reported ill.