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Investigation Update on the Sundream, Olympia Voyager, Carnival Spirit, and Sun Princess

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Investigation Update - February 4, 2003

Since October 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) has been following or investigating gastrointestinal illness aboard cruise ships on the following cruise ships:


Olympia Voyager;

Carnival's Carnival Spirit; and

Sun Princess.

Outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness continue to be reported throughout the U.S.; subsequently, we continue to see an increase in the number of passengers with gastrointestinal illness have been reported on some cruises.

Cruise vessels sailing to U.S. ports are required to notify the CDC of all reported gastrointestinal illnesses that have been reported to the ships’ medical staff. This report must be filed 24 hours prior to arrival at a U.S. port, from a foreign port. If the number of ill passengers or crewmembers reaches 2%, the vessel is required to file a special report. The CDC continues to closely monitor illness reports on a daily basis. An “outbreak” of gastrointestinal illness is defined as having 3% or more of either passengers or crew reported with a gastrointestinal illness.

Current monitored cruise vessels, outbreak dates, and background information:

Sundream (Sun Cruises, U.K.): January 20 to February 3, 2003. This vessel reported 95 of 1,085 passengers (8.8%) and 12 of 403 crew (3.0%) with gastrointestinal illness. The vessel made one U.S. port of call in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands on January 31, and then proceeded onto Venezuela. A U.K. public health laboratory confirmed gastrointestinal illness from the ill passengers and crews’ stool samples. The Sundream crew has conducted extensive cleaning and disinfection of the vessel.

Olympia Voyager (Royal Olympic Cruises, Greece): January 15 to February 3, 2003. This vessel reported 35 of 756 passengers (4.6%) and 5 of 356 crew (1.4%) ill with gastrointestinal illness. The cruise began in Port Everglades Florida and concluded in Houston Texas. Extensive cleaning and disinfection was initiated during the first week of the cruise as the initial cases were identified. No new cases were identified the second week.

Carnival Spirit (Carnival Cruise Lines): January 27 to February 4, 2003. Carnival Spirit reported 102 of 2143 passengers (4.8%) and 10 of 902 crew (1.0%) were ill with a gastrointestinal illness. This vessel sails a 7-day cruise from Miami. Stool specimens were collected and will be submitted to CDC for analysis. Clinical presentation of the illness is consistent with a noroviral outbreak. Carnival Spirit crew have been conducting extensive cleaning and disinfection aboard the vessel and additional staff will board in Miami on February 4th to assist.

Sun Princess (Princess Cruise Lines): January 25 to February 9, 2003. On January 28, the VSP was notified that 267 of 2029 passengers (13.1%) and 29 of 877 crew (3.3%) reported ill with a gastrointestinal illness. The cruise sails from Los Angeles to Hawaii, and returning to Los Angeles. On February 4th, Princess Cruises made the decision to terminate the 15 day cruise in Hawaii and not continue with the remaining five days transit from Hawaii to Los Angeles. This measure is being taken to protect the health and safety of both passengers and crew by adopting every precaution possible to avoid the risk of any further transfer of this illness. All passengers will be flown home by Wednesday, February 5, 2003.

General Information

Cruise ship travelers are reminded that simple hygienic practices, such as frequent and thorough hand washing and avoiding contact with other passengers when ill, are important measures to prevent the spread of disease.

Additional information about CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program is available at

Additional information on gastrointestinal diseases is available at

Information on Norwalk-like viruses is available at

CDC protects people’s health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.

For more information, CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program can be reached at