Posted on 12/18/2015

As passengers joined the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas when it docked in Sydney this week they were given a letter asking if they had had any symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders over the past three days. The ship had 182 passengers onboard suffering from what was thought to be norovirus.

On Wednesday morning the New South Wales (NSW) Ambulance paramedics were on standby when the Royal Caribbean ship docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at The Rocks in Sydney. In a statement, Royal Caribbean said the passengers affected by the "short-lived illness" responded well to over-the-counter medication and none had to be hospitalized. Public health director with the South East Sydney Local Health District, Dr Mark Ferson, said the outbreak started a couple of days after the ship left Sydney on December 2 and spread quickly. He added, "It's probably a highly infectious virus called norovirus which causes diarrhoea and vomiting."

Ferson remarked that Royal Caribbean was efficient in their reaction to the contagion. "They're very professional and they've instituted extra cleaning sanitation, getting passengers to wash their hands more, doing extra cleaning in the terminal of the ship in ports." "These outbreaks do occur from time to time and because the outbreak is so infectious it's quite hard to control."

Ferson suggested that the number of people affected by the outbreak is classified as large, but it is not rare. "Outbreaks of this magnitude, that we're aware of, do occur on cruise ships coming into Sydney several times a year." 3,566 passengers and 1,139 crew were onboard the ship.