Virgin Voyages has reported an apparent gastroenteritis or norovirus outbreak aboard Scarlet Lady, with dozens of passengers affected by the illness. Guests on the following sailing warned about the situation.
Appropriate actions have been taken to mitigate the spread of the illness, and the cruise line has informed the proper authorities about the outbreak.
Stomach Flu Symptoms on Scarlet Lady
The most recent sailing of Virgin Voyage’s flagship, Scarlet Lady, has been impacted by an illness outbreak with stomach flu-like symptoms. These symptoms typically include nausea, diarrhea, aches, cramps, and low-grade fever, and often signify viral gastroenteritis or norovirus.
In a statement provided to Cruise Hive, the cruise line noted the outbreak as well as confirming no impact on the ship’s next sailing, departing on Friday, October 13, 2023.
“During Scarlet Lady’s latest voyage, about 3% of our guests experienced stomach flu symptoms. Our medical team isolated these travelers, and we immediately enacted enhanced sanitization procedures including additional cleaning of cabins and high-contact areas around the ship,” the Virgin Voyages’ spokesperson said. “We are working closely with the CDC and their medical professionals.”
The 110,000-gross-ton ship can welcome 2,700 passengers. In total, 3% of that capacity would indicate that more than 80 guests have reported the symptoms, though exact figures have not been announced. It is possible some crew members may also be impacted.
Cruise lines must report outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when 2% or more of passengers or crew have gastrointestinal illness if the ship is in the US or within 15 days of arriving. If more than 3% of passengers or crew report symptoms, the report must be made to the CDC even if the ship will not be arriving at a US port for more than 15 days.
This is the first illness outbreak for any Virgin Voyages ship in 2023 that requires reporting to the CDC. Sailings from Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, and other lines have had similar reports this year.
To be clear, this outbreak is confirmed as a gastrointestinal illness – different types of which are relatively common on cruise ships – and is not COVID-19 or any type of respiratory illness.
No Impact to Sailing
The sailing impacted by the illness was a 5-night “Riviera Maya” cruise that departed Miami, Florida on Sunday, October 8. The cruise visited Cozumel, Mexico and Bimini, the Bahamas, with no impact on port stays or the ship’s return to Miami on Friday, October 13.
Similarly, the cruise line has confirmed that there will be no change to the next itinerary, a 5-night sailing departing on Friday that will visit Grand Turk on Sunday, October 15 as well as Bimini on Tuesday, October 17. The ship will return to Miami on Wednesday, October 18.
“There is currently no impact to the upcoming voyage’s departure time or ports of call,” the statement read.
Guests onboard the next sailing have been notified of the outbreak and will undoubtedly be encouraged to follow thorough handwashing recommendations. Additional mitigation measures, such as enhanced cleaning of both staterooms and public areas, more placements of hand sanitizer, and possible changes to activities may also be noticed to minimize any disease transmission.
These types of disease outbreaks, while not frequent, do happen on cruise ships because of the close quarters with hundreds of passengers aboard.
Guests can take plenty of steps to protect themselves, such as avoiding high-contact surfaces as much as possible, including elevator buttons, handrails, and serving utensils. Frequent handwashing and liberal use of hand sanitizer can also be helpful.
Avoiding overindulgence onboard, staying hydrated, and getting enough rest can also help guests fight off any illness.