Princess Cruise Ship Delayed Embarkation Due to Gastrointestinal Illness

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Ruby Princess, a cruise ship owned by Princess Cruises, experienced a small number of gastrointestinal illnesses during a recent voyage between February 26 and March 5, 2023. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has initiated an investigation. 

As a result of increased sanitation that took place after guests had disembarked the vessel, Ruby Princess‘s departure from Galveston, Texas, on March 5, 2023, was delayed for several hours. 

CDC Investigates Ruby Princess

The CDC has launched an investigation into several cases of gastrointestinal illness onboard Ruby Princess amongst guests and crew members. During the voyage, 199 passengers out of 2,881 (6.61%) and 20 crew members out of 1,159 (1.73%) reported symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

Ruby Princess sailed from Galveston, Texas, on February 26 and visited Cozumel, Mexico, Belize City, Belize, and Mahogany Bay, Honduras. Princess Cruises and the ship’s crew acted swiftly in response to the outbreak, implementing increased cleaning and disinfection procedures according to the ship’s outbreak prevention and response plan. 

CDC Sign
Photo Credit: Katherine Welles /

Gastrointestinal illness is a common sickness that can happen anywhere in the world. It can be spread quickly by an infected person or through contaminated food, water, or surfaces such as handrails and doorknobs. 

Places where people live in close proximity, like cruise ships, are at a higher risk for outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness. This is because the illness can spread easily when people are physically close. 

Vessel Sanitation Program

Vessel Sanitation Program epidemiologists and environmental health officers boarded the ship in Galveston, Texas, on March 5, to conduct a formal outbreak investigation. The CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program, sometimes called USPH, aims to ensure that each cruise ship is clean and free of germs and bacteria. The program performs random inspections of each ship that enters US waters. 

The areas checked include the medical center, portable water systems, dining areas, pools and whirlpools, housekeeping, pest management, child activity centers, and HVAC systems. Ships then receive a score based on the investigations that took place.

Ruby Princess, Galveston
Photo Credit: Princess Cruises

Most cruise ships score 90 out of 100 or higher on the CDC’s inspection scale, and any vessel that fails the inspection must correct the issues before sailing again. While gastrointestinal illness outbreaks on cruise ships are relatively infrequent, cruise lines take numerous measures to prevent them.

Ruby Princess Departure Delayed Due to Sanitation Measures

Ruby Princess‘s departure from Galveston, Texas, on March 5, 2023, was delayed due to the increased sanitation measures the cruise ship took to prevent the spread of the gastrointestinal illness reported during the previous voyage. 

Princess Cruises sent a message to guests booked on the following cruise: “Please be advised that embarkation for your Ruby Princess cruise has been delayed. During the current cruise, there were elevated case counts of gastrointestinal illness among guests. A comprehensive sanitation program was launched in response, and Ruby Princess underwent prolonged disinfection in Galveston on Sunday, March 5, 2023.”

Ruby Princess has since set off on her 7-night Western Caribbean and Mexico cruise. The cruise schedule includes several ports of call, including Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize, and Cozumel, Mexico. 

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