Holland America ship hit with norovirus on 35-day cruise sailing the Pacific

Nearly 100 passengers onboard Holland America Line’s MS Koningsdam have been hit with norovirus.

Holland America's Koningsdam in San Diego, California
Koningsdam in San Diego (Photo courtesy of Holland America)

On March 11, The Centers for Disease Control reported that 98 out of 2,522 passengers and 12 out of 961 crew members became sick with norovirus. The passengers’ infection rate is 3.89% and 1.25% for crew members.

Their predominant symptoms were diarrhea and vomiting. A spokesperson from the cruise line assured USA Today that the majority of cases were not serious. “The cases were mostly mild and quickly resolving,” the statement said.  “We initiated enhanced sanitation protocols to minimize further transmission and the incidence of cases has since declined significantly.” 

To contain the virus, sick passengers were quarantined while crew members heightened their cleaning and disinfection activities, among other measures.

Neptune suite on the ms koningsdam
Guests staying in Neptune Suites will automatically receive the Club Orange perks. (Photo via Holland America)

The Pinnacle-class cruise ship is currently on a 35-day cruise. It left San Diego on February 17 and is scheduled to arrive in Southern California on March 24. It will sail to Tahiti, Hawaii, and the Marquesas Islands during its voyage.

Since the number of ill passengers reached CDC’s 3% reporting threshold early in the voyage with well over a week to go, more cases may follow.

The cruise line improved its cleaning and disinfection measures to avoid further contamination. 

Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships in 2023

Norovirus outbreak in the dining room of a restaurant.

Alarm over outbreaks on cruise ships grew last year as there were more recorded norovirus cases than in 2017 to 2019. During the previous year, 13 norovirus outbreaks were reported, most occurring between January and March 2023.

By the end of March, 9 norovirus outbreaks had already occurred on cruise ships. Compared to 2023, there are (so far) fewer norovirus outbreaks this year. The latest wave of illnesses on Koningsdam is only the third outbreak of 2024 after Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria in February.

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