Travelers talk with News Channel 8 after potential norovirus outbreak on Tampa-bound cruise

The ms Oosterdam docked in Tampa.
The ms Oosterdam docked in Tampa.

TAMPA, Fla.  (WFLA) – Passengers of a cruise ship that was scheduled to depart Tampa Friday talked with News Channel 8 after a a suspected norovirus outbreak.

Holland America said in a statement that a number of guests on the ms Oosterdam reported being sick during a 15-day cruise that departed from Rome, Italy on Nov. 3. Holland America said the pattern of illness strongly suggested the cause was norovirus, which is easily transmitted from person to person if attention is not paid to personal hygiene.

The outbreak was reported to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said that 86 passengers and 18 crew members became ill with predominant symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. There were a total of 1,843 passengers on the ship and 796 crew members.

Most of the ship’s passengers didn’t seem too worried. They said they knew exactly what they were getting into.

“I’ll just do the same thing I always do,” Robert Schuler said. “I’ll always wash my hands.”

“I’ve got every confidence in Holland America,” Susan Ford told News Channel 8 as she waited in line to board the ship.

Passengers got the news that Holland America had cleaned the ship from top to bottom.

“It’s a very common virus actually,” said Dr. Ferdinand Richards, III, of Tampa General Hospital.

Richards said the norovirus is highly contagious and is spread mostly through contaminated food and water. It can also be spread through the air.

Norovirus can spread like wildfire in contaminated places, the doctor said. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “It’s a setup.” You could call the ship a huge floating petri dish – and passengers have nowhere to go.

Back on dry land near Port Tampa Friday night, travelers said when they’ve set sail before, they weren’t too concerned about the norovirus.

“I wasn’t afraid but just the thought of it,” Loretta Adih told News Channel 8. She said the news surprised her a bit.

News of the suspected outbreak made some like Molly Jacobson wonder how exactly it could be spread. “How are they filtering our water?” Jacobson asked. “How are they making our food?”

As for setting sail in the future, travelers like Darrelyn Thompson told News Channel 8 she’s nervous. “We were planning on going on a cruise again in April,” Thompson said. “Now, I’m afraid.”

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