Cruise Delayed After Norovirus Sickens 142

A recent norovirus outbreak onboard the Alaska cruise ship Sea Princess sickened more than a hundred passengers.

Princess Cruises says a total of 142 people became ill during the ship’s May 30th-to-June 9th cruise, which visited Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan.

The San Francisco-based ship’s next departure was pushed back while crews disinfected the Sea Princess. Spokeswoman Karen Candy says the delay was just four hours. But it was enough to force route changes.

Sitka gained an unscheduled stop, Juneau saw the ship later than expected and Haines lost a docking.

The Sea Princess carries about 2,000 passengers and 900 crew members during 10-day Inside Passage cruises. Other stops along the route can include Skagway, Tracy Arm and Victoria, British Columbia.

Norovirus, also called Norwalk-like virus, is a common gastrointestinal illness that causes diarrhea and vomiting. Princess Cruises says it followed U.S. Centers for Disease Control protocols in reporting the illness and cleaning the vessel before its latest sailing.

The cruise line says norovirus numbers were also higher than usual during the ship’s two previous trips.

CDC inspected the Sea Princess on May 24th and identified 13 problems, including a leaking pipe at a soup station. However, all the issues were considered minor and the overall health rating was high.

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell.

He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues.

He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.

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