Norovirus outbreak on Independence of the Seas – February 2012


The last cruise ship we traveled on and had the pleasure of reviewing was the Independence of the Seas and this was last summer, which passed with flying colors other than some children that were out late and making a lot of noise, it was an amazing experience.

Today we can break some exclusive news that has come to us thanks to a few reports, which were received by email and pointed us to a Norovirus outbreak on Independence of the Seas this month. It’s alleged that the Norovirus outbreak happened during the last week, and some cruise passengers that got back to Southampton yesterday state there was an “outbreak of Norovirus during the second week” of the cruise.

Initial reports are very positive from passengers that returned on February 24, 2012. While yet to be officially verified it’s alleged that the Independence of the Seas crew “pulled out all the stops cleaning everything down“, and officers made sure crew cleaned the lifts, hand rails, tables, chairs, and more with “disinfectant packs on their backs“.

It seems that Independence of the Seas were on-the-ball when it comes to taking action, although it’s said by one passenger that there was a “reduced choice service” at the Windjammer buffet for a few days. Other rumors point to a deep clean taking place after they were in port; again this has not been confirmed.

We’ve contacted Royal Caribbean and asked for an official comment, which considering it’s a weekend we shouldn’t hear back until next week. We’ll update this article when we hear more from their press office.

When we cruised with Independence of the Seas last year they were always prompting you to clean your hands and had gels on hand at doors to food areas, which shows they do all they can unlike some other cruise companies. Current feedback for Independence of the Seas and Royal Caribbean International is very positive.

At the time of writing we’ve not heard back from RCI although we’ll update you as soon as we get word.

Update: We’ve had an email from someone who has family currently on Independence of the Seas and they state that the sail away was delayed, which adds to the possibility of a deep clean yesterday to stop the virus from remaining onboard.

Update 2: Royal Caribbean International has provided a statement, which can be seen below the article here.

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  • Update

    This are the procedures when a certain No of cases are during the cruise. Verdict barrier cleaning … Everything is sanitize. Guest need to wash more often there hands ( no less then 20 sec. )

    • Fay

      My son had Chicken pox confined to cabin for 8 days. Norovirus rife inboard. Food in windjammer was served cold. Some norovirus cases could well have been food poisoning.

  • J Walker

    i was with aparty of seven – including two people over 8 years old. One did contract the virus and received excellent complimentary treatment in his stateroom.  The precautions on board and the action taken was ‘second to none’.  This was our eigth cruise and althought the illness caused some restrictions it did not stop us having an excellent holiday.  The staff all deserve the highest praise for their dedication and hard work during this outbreak. 

  • J Walker

    my comment should have read ‘ included two people over 85 years of age!

  • Tc31351

    There was a significant outbreak of Noro Virus in Feb 2012, however the crew were amazing at dealing with it. The best precautions i have ever seen taken on a cruise ship. Staff should be commended for their dedication and hard work during this outbreak. They really did pull out all the stops to keep people healthy. Well done RCI, and by the way the cruise itself was absolutely outstanding and i have cruised all over the world with several cruise liners.

  • Kerr

    I was on the Independence of the Seas last week and would advise that there was an outbreak of Norovirus which broke out.  It happened initially on the first week of the cruise.  Various numbers were quoted with the highest, I heard being 800 people being infected. None of these numbers were confirmed.  There was also an outbreak of chickenpox which was also reported.  The staff onboard were quick to issue advice to passengers to clean their hands etc but it was not until the second week of the cruise that the buffet service was replaced with the food being served by RCCL staff.  I believe the sail away this week was delayed as the were going to deep clean the ship before letting new passengers on board.

  • Cruisereview

    The crew of the ship did a great job at tackling the Norovirus outbreak. Entertainers were even cleaning and serving food in the buffet including ice skaters and dancers!

  • Japstam

    Seems the clean did not work. I have family on board the ship this week and they have been confined to there cabin for 48hrs.
    Seems money vs people health has over taken the cruise industry

  • Fearncranston

    I was on the ship last week and on the 8th day I contracted the bug. I was always washing and sanatising my hands. The staff where very good at trying to sanitise everywhere, but I found that some people were to blame for the disease spreading. Coughing in the Alhambra theatre without covering their mouths etc.
    I was violently sick and had diahoria for about 8 hours on and off.
    I think they need to take the ship out of action for a while and clean everything including, washing carpets, curtians etc.
    I was isolated to my cabin for 24 hours. But I didn’t have the strength to leave anyway.
    I have been told that I will get compensation, which I belive to be money off a future cruise. Do I take the chance and go again. Lol

  • Hedgehog

    My parents are on board the ship at the moment, boarding was delayed whilst a deep clean was carried out and authorities gave the go ahead for the next cruise to go ahead.  Comments are being made that cleaning seems OTT still, but they havent heard of any new outbreaks so its obviously working! :) 

  • A Munier

    I have just returned on the Independance of the seas today (Tue6thMar) There were many(ships rumour 400+ but who knows Royal C would not give any details) Norovirus cases on the ship including myself. So the supposed deep clean that delayed our boarding of the ship by 4 hours was not very effective. Also the constant hand cleaning and sanitising did nothing to prevent new cases. The cruise was declared by most seasoned cruisers as “the worst” they had ever experienced, there were long queues for everthing because of the norovirus precautions which did so little to prevent new cases. In my opinion the ship needs to be taken out of service, completely disinfected, cleaned and a complete new crew employed.   

  • Teamxl

    Just arrived home from the 24th feb to 6th march sailng. I think RCI did a great job containing noravirus concidering there was 5000 people on board including crew. i understand from talking to our stateroom attendant that only around 200 people were suffering from noravirus which is a reduction of 200 from the previous cruise. Dont forget the average age is fairly old and i wouldnt mind betting some came on ill and spread that around too. Tip for future passengers is to look above room doors, if there is a yellow sticker then they have been clocked as suffering from noravirus. Cant wait until my 6th cruise later in the year.

  • PM2

    It was the CRUISE FROM HELL.   I could not wait to get off the Independance of the Seas this morning 6th March 2012.  My husband got Norovirus and was isolated in the cabin for 48 hours after the last symptoms disappeared.  I decided to stay with him in case I was infectious – consequently we missed two of the trips that we most wanted to do.  We were offered a a future trip with a reduction in price – NO THANK YOU.  I feel for the people that are going on the cruise today.

    • Eve

      How nice they offered you a priced reduction on your next cruise – I had norovirus on Princess last year (to Copenhagen).  I had to stay in my room until the end of the cruise and received no offer of a price reduction – not that I would have accepted it as I think Princess has deteriorated to the point I felt I was travelling in Walmart.

  • Catotney

    My husband and myself have just returned from independence of the seas and it was fab. Yes it did have problems with norovirus and we were delayed getting on, but we could not fault the cleanliness of the ship or the hardworking staff, they did everything they could to stop the virus spreading.Unfortunately people themselves did not inform the staff if they were sick or had an upset tummy and so were spreading it around. Someone told us they had heard a family in a chemist in Lisbon asking for imodium, so obviously they had the bug and were trying to treat it themselves, thus spreading it around. Norovirus is always worse in the winter, we went on the ship last sept. as well and we didnt hear of a single case. So dont be put off, it is a wonderful ship with excellent staff and you could”t wish for a more relaxing holiday.

  • Paula

    went to get on it yesterday   06/03/2012    still got norvo virus on board   400 people ill    we refused to board   will lose 5 grand     they will not reinburse us    gutted

  • Lisa Roberts18

    Got back Tuesday 06th March 2012 there was a huge outbreak of norovirus on board it didn’t spoil my holiday but I was expecting more from this amazing ship only problem I had was the ground staff at Southampton no comunication and treated like refugees who had spent a lot of money for their holiday I will not sail from there again I prefer to fly cruise 

  • Teamxl

    Paula i think you have been miss informed about the previous cruise which i myself was on, there was less then 200 people who caught noravirus but over 400 on the cruise before that, RCI worked very hard to deal with it and with 5000 people on board including crew, 200 was not bad. i would of loved to of stayed on again. With the deep clean they did after our cruise im sure the number would of been reduced even further.


    our annual vacation was a disaster!!! rccl had no business going forth with the feb 24th sailing knowing the extent of the illness spread on the prior sailing.entrapment.

  • M2711

    this cruise was”the royal flush”, the captain went down with the shits, and should be renamed “Depends of the sea” because the norovirus forces one to wear diapers.

  • Carol_j21

    I have just come back from a cruise on the Independance of the seas and there is a real problem on that ship.  Fortunately myself nor my family caught the virus but we had to avoid most common areas particularly the windjammer and the childrens play areas. I’m not sure how many people had it on our cruise but over 200 had it on the previos cruise and the one before that had over 450 people with it and I heard from the staff it was horrendous.  If I’d know how bad it was I wouldnt have gone but fortunately were all safe and well although I have to admit i was paranoid all holiday and it has put me off cruising for a very very long time!

  • Victor

    They are not telling the whole Truth. It is believed that approaching 1000 passengers were affected but many did not report it as they would have been Quarantined to their cabins. The other truth is that they did not know whether it was Novovirus on this ship or some other potentially lethal illness  (Ecoli) as they do not have the equipment to test the huge numbers involved. They blamed the passengers but it is not the problem. It was their cleaning and disinfection methods that were clearly inadequate. Novovirus requires a steam jet at 260′ go kill it. They also use cheap narrow toilet paper the almost guarantees penetration by the fingers and faecal contamination. They do this so that the paper goes down the exit pipes and save a few dollars I expect. Port Health at Southampton boarded the ship on arrival and got assurances that thy would replace the toilet paper on the whole fleet and institute steam cleaning. I will see if the have done it. Did anyone else have their Credit Card Information stolen like I did ?  So far they have not mentioned compensation  but I will sue their pants off  as I have only just recovered. This has  been going on for years !!!!

  • Gordonsimpkin

    We joined the Independance of the Seas
    in Southampton U.K 24Feb2012 which had returned with over 480 passengers
    down with the Novo-virus plus 28 crew, the ship was deep cleaned, yet
    we still had 117 casualities on our trip.  Surely taken the ship out of service for 72 hours or more would allow a break for the crew and help to get rid of the bug – the former figures were given to me by the Southampton Environmental Health Department and the latter came from the Press.