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Norovirus attacks Carnival on the high seas

The Associated Press and other news outlets are reporting that an outbreak of the norovirus occurred on the Carnival Liberty during its recent transatlantic crossing. More than 530 guests and 140 crew members reported symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting.

The ship arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday and has delayed the start of its next cruise to Tuesday to allow for a thorough disinfection of the ship. CruiseCritic reports that guests on this next sailing can choose not to sail and receive a full refund. Passengers who do embark on this shortened sailing will receive a 50 percent refund on their cruise fare and a 50 percent discount on a future voyage.

Ready to blame Carnival for its shoddy sanitary practices? Think again. At least two guests boarded the ship already sick with a gastrointestinal illness. While the direct cause of the virus has not yet been determined, it’s quite likely that these two passengers spread the illness by touching other guests or items such as handrails, menus, and serving utensils that were then used by many people.

The take-away message here is to respond honestly when the check-in agent asks you if you’re sick or experiencing gastrointestinal troubles. Everyone looks forward to a vacation, and no one wants to be quarantined for a few days or, worse yet, prevented from boarding the ship. However, your self-interest could ruin the vacations of hundreds of people. It’s certainly something to think about.

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