4/18/2014

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Problem Solvers

Cut your chances of getting sick on a cruise

Cut your chances of getting sick on a cruise

With the winter weather, you may be dreaming of sunshine, and January is often sale time for cruises.

But what about the risk of norovirus outbreaks on ships, and that chance you could be trapped, in close quarters, with dozens of passengers sick with vomiting and diarrhea?

The KATU Problem Solvers found a tool for you to use to cut your chances of getting sick on your cruise.

A special section of the Centers for Disease Control website shows you which ships had stomach illness outbreaks and when; plus, the results of health inspections for each ship.

In 2013, the site shows nine ships had stomach illness outbreaks, including the Celebrity Summit from Celebrity Cruise Lines. The ship had an outbreak of norovirus last fall where more than 15 percent of the passengers, more than 300 people, got sick.

The site includes information on what Celebrity Cruise Lines -- and other lines that had outbreaks -- did to correction the problems.

The site also lets you see which ships have passed and which flunked their health inspections. A score of 85 or less is unsatisfactory.

For example, the MV Yorktown, operated by V. Ships Leisure U.S.A., has not received a satisfactory score in five out of the last six inspections.

Its last inspection report in October 2013 shows violations involving stomach illness.

In one case, the chef got a stomach virus that spread to a number of crew members. But the report says the ship did not report it properly to the CDC.

In another case, the report says a cabin steward got sick, but the ship did not follow procedure by not recording the sickness properly, not interviewing cabinmates, and not giving sickness fact sheets to people affected, as required.

The site also shows a corrective report for the MV Yorktown, and for other ship inspections as well.

The company that operates the MV Yorktown, V. Ships Leisure U.S.A., did not respond to a request for a response.

Local travel agent Beth Levich said she is glad the CDC does the cruise ship inspections and provides the information to the public.

"I see it as a great thing. I see it as a necessary thing," said Levich.

Levich said she has been on 88 cruises in the last 12 years.

"I've never been sick once. Ever," said Levich.

She said most cruise ships are clean and safe. Still, she said she will put the CDC tool to use, and she believes the tool will help motivate cruise lines.

"They're going to keep it as clean as they possibly can, because the last thing they want is people sick and the bad press," said Levich.

Search for ship inspections
Stomach illness outbreaks on ships
CDC Vessel Sanitation Program web site
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