Holland America Line, which is battling another stubborn outbreak
of a contagious gastrointestinal virus, canceled one cruise by the
Amsterdam but expects to resume normal operations Dec. 1.
The Norwalk-like virus plagued several cruise lines in Alaska
this past summer, and now it’s surfaced on the Amsterdam’s 10-day
Southern Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale.
On the most recent cruise, the virus struck 58 passengers and 18
crewmembers; 1,875 people were onboard.
The virus first surfaced on a 21-day repositioning cruise from
Vancouver that arrived in Fort Lauderdale Oct. 22, said Rose
Abello, vice president of public relations for Holland America. On
that cruise, 216 people were affected. Fifty people reported the
gastrointestinal symptoms on the Oct. 22 cruise and 182 on the Nov.
The 1,380-passenger ship was thoroughly cleaned at the end of
the Oct. 22 cruise and again on the ship’s turnarounds in Fort
“Taking her out of service lets us do some things we can’t do
when we’re cruising, such as bringing down the whole refrigeration
and air-conditioning systems,” Abello said.
The symptoms of the virus include vomiting and diarrhea. Often
referred to as “stomach flu” although it is not the flu, the
illness typically runs its course in 24 to 48 hours, Holland
The Norwalk-like virus spreads quickly in a closed environment
such as a cruise ship. It can be passed along by a handshake,
proximity to a sneeze or touching a handrail.
“This virus is pretty prevalent anywhere,” Abello said. “The
ship environment allows it to be more traceable.”
The stem-to-stern cleaning was expected to include every item on
“We’ll divide the ship into hundreds of sections and make double
and triple checks to make sure everything is cleaned, sanitized and
disinfected,” Abello said. “Every TV remote control, every hand
rail, every Scrabble tile and every poker chip will get
The Centers for Disease Control has been involved in Holland
America’s efforts to halt the spread of the virus.
“Holland America Line has been very proactive in dealing with
this unfortunate virus,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jon Schoor, assistant
deputy chief of the CDC’s vessel sanitation program. “Holland
America has gone above and beyond the call of duty.”
Passengers booked on the Nov. 21 cruise were being notified in
advance of the cancellation. They were offered alternative cruises
or full cash refunds and future cruise-savings credits. Travel
agent commissions will be protected.
The Amsterdam will depart on a 108-day world cruise on Jan. 4
from Fort Lauderdale.