Spreading it around: why cruise lines ban sick people

It seems like a case of damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Here’s a news story about a cruise line that’s under fire because it ruined a family’s holiday when it refused to allow two sick children to board.

Serenade of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

And yet the same web site — and many others — regularly runs stories (such as this and this) about large numbers of passengers whose holidays are ruined because they got norovirus (“gastro” in Australian headline-writing parlance) on cruise ships.

In the story, a family is complaining that two children couldn’t board because their parents filled out a form saying that they had suffered certain symptoms in recent days.

While I can’t comment on this exact case, and say whether the cruise line, Royal Caribbean, could have handled the situation better, I can say that it’s in everybody’s interests is you don’t board a ship when you are ill.

In a closed ecosystem such as a ship at sea — where everyone is eating in the same restaurants, breathing the same air, swimming in the same pool, and touching the same surfaces — disease can spread quickly.

And sometimes cruise lines have to choose between disappointing some people by not letting them board, or making a heck of a lot of other people sick and ruining their holidays.

If you’re interested in the norovirus, there are more stories here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *