The CDC has issued a cruise ship illness outbreak alert for the Norwegian Gem. The report states that during the November 13-25 voyage 111 passengers and 3 crew members reported being ill with vomiting and/or diarrhea. In response to the outbreak NCL, the operator of the Norwegian Gem, increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures as well as collected stool specimens for testing by the CDC. The cruise ship currently makes weekly voyages from New York City.
Being that thousand passengers and crew members interact for extended periods of time in confined spaces aboard the cruise ships like the Norwegian Gem, gastrointestinal illness can spread rapidly. In cases of Norovirus, a person can remain a carrier for two weeks after the symptoms have passed. Cruise line practices also fuel outbreaks. It is routine procedure for many cruise lines to send their crew members back to work after illness symptoms have disappeared. This means crew members who are still carrying Norovirus often times unwittingly pass the virus along to passengers while serving food and handling objects in the cabin and common areas.