How to avoid the Norovirus!

How to avoid the Norovirus!

No one likes to be sick, and to become sick while on vacation is especially awful! Which brings us to the dread Norovirus, the bane of every happy cruise.

So first off, what exactly IS the Norovirus? Wikipedia defines the Norovirus as a genus of genetically diverse single-stranded RNA, non-enveloped viruses in the Caliciviridae family.[1] The known viruses in the genus are all considered to be the variant strains of a single species called Norwalk virus.

And while we have come to associate Norovirus with cruises, it’s actually problematic with many ‘limited’ populations- schools, nursing homes, theme parks. We all know when the ‘bug’ is going around at work. The difference is that people usually depart those locations and spread out into the general population, so you don’t always know who else is sick. You get to hang out with your cruising companions for a longer period of time, thereby increasing your chances of contracting it.

The good news is it’s really easy to avoid catching the nasty little bug. Here are some of the ways we have avoided falling victim:

  • Wash your hands every opportunity you get.
  • When cruise staff stands at the entrance of the buffet line with a spray bottle saying “washy, washy!” you really should washy-washy…
  • Speaking of buffet lines, ALWAYS use tongs, yes-even for those cute little muffins.
  • Avoid hand to mouth eating; use your fork for those fries, skip that last bite of ice cream cone where your fingers are touching-you get the idea…
  • Use a straw with your drinks, ok…maybe not the hot ones.
  • When you pass a sanitizer dispenser onboard, use it, but remember that the alcohol based sanitizer is still not as good as soap and water washing-so again, wash your hands every chance you get.
  • Pack and carry antiseptic wipes. Bringing them on the cruise is only helpful if you remember to take them with you.
  • Avoid the ship’s public bathrooms and go back to your cabin. If you have to use the public restroom, then always wash thoroughly and use the paper towels attached to the door to open the door.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes as much as possible; use a tissue, or your sleeve, just not your hands.
  • Watch your dining room staff, the crew is as susceptible to the virus as we are, so if your waiter seems sick in the dining room, it might be a great time to check out one of those specialty restaurants everyone is talking about!

Finally, if despite your best efforts you do get sick, try not to spread it. Stay in that lovely stateroom (aren’t you glad you got a balcony!), and order room service-it’s available 24 hours a day on most ships. If you develop a fever, do see the ship’s doctor. During one of our early cruises, I had to visit the ship’s doctor on the last day of our cruise and the medical staff there was very competent and kind. Travel insurance is invaluable for these (and bigger) issues! Although I don’t remember much of our trip home; I was feeling much better in a short time.

Author: Desiree Carter

Photos: ©Cedric Carter

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