The Crown Princess cruise ship departed the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro as scheduled Sunday after Federal health officers boarded to investigate a Norovirus outbreak that hit a small percentage of passengers returning from a month long cruise to the Pacific isles, a company spokeswoman said today.
With its sanitation protocol complete on the ship and the terminal, the Crown Princess embarked Sunday afternoon, said the cruise line’s Susan Lomax.
It was scheduled to return before a Nov. 22 weeklong Mexico cruise, according to the cruise line’s website.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 158 passengers of the 3,009 on board the Crown Princess cruise ship and 14 of the 1,160 crew members suffered from vomiting and diarrhea, which began in the last half of the voyage. Carnival executives said there were 3,007 passengers on board.
The Crown Princess was scrubbed to make it ready for Sunday night’s embarkation, Carnival officials said. It was the same ship involved in large Norovirus outbreaks last April.
The Norovirus is very contagious and can be transmitted from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces, according to the CDC.
A CDC environmental health officer was expected to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities. Specimens are to be sent to the CDC lab for confirmatory testing and genome sequencing.
Princess Cruises said its crew increased cleaning and disinfection procedures, made announcements to notify passengers of the outbreak, encouraged case reporting and advocated hand hygiene.
Medical workers onboard also collected stool specimens from ill passengers and crew and tested them.
According to the Princess Cruise Media Relations Department, the 28-day cruise began in Los Angeles and went to Hawaii and Tahiti, among other stops.
“Over the last few days, the ship began seeing an increased number of gastrointestinal illnesses, caused by Norovirus (commonly referred to as the stomach flu),” according to the company statement. “In response, we have enacted our stringent disinfecting protocols developed in conjunction with the (CDC), which includes a deep cleaning of the ship and the terminal in Los Angeles on Sunday before the ship embarks on its next voyage.”
The statement, noting that “it is the cold and flu season, when the stomach flu circulates on land,” went on to urge all of the cruise line’s guests “to be diligent in following widely accepted practices of frequent hand washing with soap and water and the use of hand sanitizers.”