Royal Caribbeans Voyager of the Seas has sailed into troubled waters in the Mediterranean last Friday, when a number of crew members were showing flu-like symptoms. Reports quickly surfaced that as many as 60 of the ships crew had taken ill with swine flu, however spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez reported that the staff tested negative for influenza A, which includes the H1N1 virus.
The Cruise Lines Industry Association Medical Facilities Working Group (try saying that a few times in a row) is a group of licensed and experienced shipboard physicians and medical workers that review and monitor onboard medical care. Although all ships have some sort of medical facility onboard, as cruise ships expand in size allowing increasing numbers of passengers traveling together, its no surprise that illnesses can spread so easily. Some newer vessels are implementing telemedicine which allows ships to stay in contact with hospitals via satellite to create a virtual emergency room. While these new advancements may prove to be helpful, they were designed to target medical emergencies not flu epidemics.
Are cruise lines doing enough to prevent the spread of viruses?