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Why do so many people seem to get sick on cruise ships?

Mathew Healy, PortandTerminal.com, January 14, 2019

Hamburg, Germany (January 14, 2019) – The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the other day that 561 people have been reported ill on Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas. The vessel’s itinerary has been cut short, and the ship has returned to Port Canaveral in Florida.

Other cruise ships reporting outbreaks of illness in 2018 include Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Mariner and Silversea Cruises’ Silver Shadow amongst others.

Why is it that so many people seem to get sick on cruise ships?

The fact is not that many people really do get sick on cruise ships. It just seems that way. Yes, there are well-publicized outbreaks of illness on cruise ships from time-to-time, but far fewer than you would expect given the level of reporting each outbreak receives in the media.

The CDC reports that there are less than 30 people who get sick per 100,000 passenger days. See CDC:Acute Gastroenteritis on Cruise Ships – United States, 2008-2014. That’s not very many.

The CDC also estimates that in 2017/2018 there 49 million people got sick with the Flu in the United States. That’s almost 15% of the entire population of the country. See CDC: Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths in the United States — 2017–2018 influenza season

Granted, 2017/2018 was an especially bad year for the flu, and there’s a difference in passenger days vs percentage of population, but you get the idea.

Cases of illness at sea are not very high in comparison to those of us who are stuck on land.

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