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Facts About Noroviruses on Cruise Ships


People often associate cruise ships with acute gastrointestinal illnesses such as norovirus. But acute gastrointestinal illness is relatively infrequent on cruise ships despite its notoriety.

From 2008 to 2014, 74 million passengers sailed on cruise ships in the Vessel Sanitation Program’s jurisdiction. Only 129,678 passengers met the program’s case definition for acute gastrointestinal illness and only a small proportion of those cases (1 in 10) were part of a norovirus outbreak.

Norovirus is a very contagious virus. You can get norovirus from an infected person, from contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.

Learn more about norovirus

Why acute gastrointestinal illnesses including noroviruses are associated with cruise ships

  • Health officials track illness on cruise ships. So outbreaks are found and reported more quickly on a cruise ship than on land.
  • Close living quarters may increase the amount of group contact.
  • People joining the ship may bring the virus to other passengers and crew.

For more information about noroviruses on cruise ships,