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Despite the inference set forth by anti cruise websites that one runs an excellent risk of becoming ill while on a cruise ship, the stats for 2009 from the Centers for Disease Control close the book to such inferences One such website purports that over 4,000 cruisers became ill on cruise ships in 2009. While that could be true for the world wide industry and which includes lines and ships the names of which the average American may not even recognize, the chance of such illness happening to those cruising from/to American ports has declined yet again.
The overwhelming number of cruise ships serve the American market and during 2009, approximately 13,200,000 cruisers took cruises aboard ships that docked in American ports. Yet a review of CDC stats for this past year reveals that of the total number of gastrointestinal illnesses (usually cases of Norovirus) reported, only about a quarter of those claimed in the first paragraph were to those disembarking in American ports.
All ships serving American ports are required by law to report to the CDC prior to reaching port, instances of gastrointestinal illness as well as certain other communicable illnesses that effect 3% or more of the total of passengers and crew of all ships carrying in excess of 100 passengers. This even includes voyages on ships originating from foreign ports that visit American ports. Of course the lion's share of all cruises Americans take both originate and end in the United States.
What all this boils down to is that the chance of a cruiser acquiring such an illness while on a cruise in 2009 was approximately only one out of one hundred thirty-two thousand!
Of all the cruise lines included in the above stats, Holland America had the greatest reports of incidents with 7. The other lines effected were Princess (3 incidents), Celebrity (2 incidents), Carnival (1 iincident), Norwegian Cruise Lines (1 incident) and Regent (1 incident). No other lines were listed in the report which reflects that no cruise ship from any other line reached the 3% level of passenger and crew illness. The fifteen incidents represent only eight voyages of the well over 4,400 that disembarked in a U. S. port in 2009.
All cruisers, however, should always take prudent precautions. Frequent hand washing as recommended by the CDC as well as sneezing into the crook of your arm and covering your mouth while coughing can themselves, whether one be on land or at sea, go a very long way to insure you don't obtain or spread such an illness. The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure certainly applies.
If you're apprehensive about your next cruise as a result of all the hype that's out there about becoming ill, relax as the chances are very slim indeed that you will become ill. So get ready to lay back on that lounger beside the ship's pool, adjust your sunglasses and go back to reading that bestseller. Happy cruising everyone.