Nov 14, 2017, 5:45 AM ET

10 members of Philadelphia family sickened on Royal Caribbean cruise


A honeymoon vacation turned into a nightmare for one family when 10 members caught a norovirus while abroad a seven-day cruise to the Bahamas, the affected Philadelphia newlyweds said.

Ashley Morris said she, her husband, her two children, her parents, nieces and sister-in-law were sickened while abroad the Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas cruise last week.

“My family is suffering now,” Morris told ABC Philadelphia station WPVI-TV Monday.

Morris had heard rumors aboard the ship about a fast-spreading virus on the second day of the cruise, she said. Workers in masks and protective gear were seen sanitizing the narrow hallways of the ship, according to Morris, but the virus had already began to spread.

"Some hand-sanitizing stations, they didn't have any sanitizer available to us. They were out of soap at certain sinks, there were no sanitizing stations at the elevators," Morris said of the ship that returned Sunday.

Her family accused the ship’s managers of doing too little to stem the spread of the virus, which is transmitted by touching others or germ-covered surfaces.

"You call Royal Caribbean and they want medical documentation," Morris told WPVI. "They're not compensating anyone in any way until medical documentation is given."

Royal Caribbean said it was aware of 98 reported cases of gastro-intestinal illness symptoms, which represents about 2 percent of the 4,905 guests and crew were on board.

“Those affected by the short-lived illness are being treated by the ship's doctors and responded well to over-the-counter medication, and guests were encouraged to ensure hand hygiene standards remain high at all times to prevent the spread of any illness during the remainder of the cruise,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement to WPVI.

“There have been numerous reports of multiple strains of gastrointestinal illnesses in the community in Australia in recent months.”

News - 10 members of Philadelphia family sickened on Royal Caribbean cruise

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  • CruisingRoyally

    I was on the same sailing as the family in this "news" story. I have to say just like them my families vacation was also completely ruined and my family "suffered" also. Because of the people that got sick on the sailing I had to multiple days with out any fruit for my cocktails!!!!

    Ok on a serious note, lets set the record straight and correct the fake news above. "She heard a rumor" that doesn't make any sense, they delivered letters of notification to all the staterooms a few days in, stating that some people were experiencing gastrointestinal issues. In 7 days not once did I come across ANY sinks that didn't have soap. Nor was any hand sanitizing station ever out, and on top of that, they had crew at public areas just holding and giving it out, some areas you couldn't even get in till they gave you some. As far as the ship doing "too little", from day one there was increased cleaning and sanitizing procedures in place, this coming from a seasoned cruiser. As the cruise progressed and more people get ill, they increased procedures, which included no fruit or drink menus at bars, stopping self service in some areas.

  • Darcy Dahley

    I only clicked this story to comment how stupid it is. How does "Family Gets Sick on Vacation" qualify as news? You can contract norovirus at the mall, the workplace, the doctor's office. I spent three days with 15 family members in the mountains last winter and 12 of us ended up contracting some virus. Give me a call ABC "News" if you want all of the sordid details.

  • Time for a drink

    Norovirus is serious stuff. At least they lost some weight on vacation.

  • Carol Samaras-Marelli

    I have been on many cruises including the Anthem of The Seas and they always have lots of hand sanitizer stations and sinks before going into restaurants to wash your hands. I feel bad they had gotten sick but this isn't just on cruise ships! Its just the only time you hear about it. My children and I have gotten sick from the norovirus from a school event in the past. Turned out that the volunteer that was serving the food at the event was sick the prior night and most likely coughed and spread the germs on the food of which we all consumed that caused roughly 90 people to get sick. Unfortunately, all it takes is one person to come onto the ship that is sick and spread it because they don't wash their hands, cover their mouths or etc. I have cruised 9 times with my family and we have always stayed healthy and some of those times other passengers were sick. The crew of the ship go above and beyond working endless hours to make sure the ship is cleaned, sanitized and whatever else to make every guest feel like royalty. Passengers really need to make sure they do their part by washing hands, covering your mouth while coughing and every other precaution to help keep everyone healthy.

  • Sabine Buie

    sounds like somebody wants some money

  • chrisitna

    From my experience with Royal Caribbean: they can easily check the logs on your sea pass card to validate that your trip was in fact interrupted by quarantine whether self imposed or not. If they were able to see that the family was still checking in for dinner etc. then they will not offer any kind of future discount.

  • Advocate

    I'm sorry but how is the cruise line to blame for your illness? The CDC does not require anyone to provide you with hand sanitizer. Go wash your hands and don't put the in your mouth! It sucks to get sick on vacation, but why does Royal Caribbean have to compensate you??

  • Doug Avila

    Once you buy a ticket and accept the legal bottom line which all cruise ships require you accept before taking you are out of luck. Maybe they will give you a discount on a future cruise but you pretty much sign away any legal recourse. They will give no refunds for something like this. I don't do cruise ships because of their lack of cleanness. I've had friends get sick and they were miserable most of their trip. The company offered nothing expect some pills to help with the diarrhea. Nothing else.

  • BigB

    Aboard ship, it is safer to stay away from the self serve buffet lines. All it takes is one child with poor bathroom hygiene handling a serving utensil to infect an entire ship.

  • AsmatBob

    somebody looking for something for free.. you're 10 family members got sick probably because one of you spread it to the others. You're probably the ones that brought it on board the boat in the first place if all of you got sick.

  • marion

    This isn't news. Cruise ships deal with this all the time. People get sick and they sanitize the hell out of the ship. Then they follow you around with hand sanitizer and urge you to wash with soap and water often. The same thing happened to us during our European cruise this summer. Some people got sick, but it was contained. Wash your hands regularly and you'll be fine. It sucks to be this family, but it's hardly newsworthy. What I would like to know is why ABC News thought this was worth reporting. Slow news day?

  • CCC_Port

    Norovirus is found in stool and is passed by infected people, and especially by those who do not wash their hands properly after using the bathroom. If the entire family got it, the entire family wasn't washing their hands regularly and especially before eating. Norovirus has become common not only on cruise ships but in other "closed" populations such as nursing homes, daycare centers, universities/colleges, etc. As long as even one person neglects to wash their hands after using the bathroom, they can spread norovirus. My family's been on over 20 cruises and have never been infected, even when other passengers around us were. We wash our hands regularly, and especially before eating instead of using hand sanitizer.

    From the CDC, to prevent norovirus:
    Wash your hands carefully with soap and water—
    - especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and
    - always before eating, preparing, or handling food.
    Noroviruses can be found in your vomit or stool even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your stool for 2 weeks or more after you feel better. So, it is important to continue washing your hands often during this time.
    Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing. But, they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water. See “Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives.”

  • LJS

    Been there. Done that. I never even thought to be compensated. Just a loss of a couple of days.

  • notuagain

    People have been jailed in UK for making false holiday illness claims. It's called fraud. All Noro virus outbreaks are taken on board by passengers and most people now are so sanitized they have no immunity to any bugs. Vaccines work by injecting you with dead bugs so your immune system gets used to dealing with them.

  • Jenm08648

    I agree that this is attempt to get money. I was ON this cruise. I also live with a type of cancer that compromises my immune system (multiple myeloma). I KNEW it was a risk that there would be germs with nearly 5,000 passengers (doesn't include 1,000 crew members) onboard. They told us VERY early on there was an outbreak and to be careful. They were MILITANT about hand washing and using hand sanitizer which was EVERYWHERE. By the last days of the trip crew members were the ones to distribute drinks and desserts to cut down on contact. Luckily my family and I are ok (as of now) but I don't imagine i would seek monetary compensation from Royal Caribbean if we did get sick because I felt like they TRIED to contain it. How about the people who HAD it and still went on trip OR continued to go out and about on cruise as if nothing wrong. Happens every single day at work and no one asks for monetary compensation then!

  • unusual

    Since everyone in their family was affected but relatively few other people were, how do they know they didn't bring the virus on board with them?

  • TexasVulcan

    I used to ask why Navy ships don't have this problem with living in close quarters. Of course, the Navy does not have little kids running around getting their boogers all over...

  • Billy Bob Smith

    They should absolutely provide medical documentation. Do you think they're just going to trust anyone who makes a claim? Besides, if there were over 4,000 people on the ship, and only 98 were sickened by this "fast spreading" virus, most likely it didn't come from the food handlers. Otherwise, a LOT more people would be sick. My advice, take a cruise in June, July or August. Rates of norovirus are very, very low during those months.

  • Harry The Handsom Butcher

    '"You call Royal Caribbean and they want medical documentation,' Morris
    told WPVI. 'They're not compensating anyone in any way until medical
    documentation is given."'

    Well ya. If they didn't every passenger would demand a refund every time anyone else got sick

  • Rubber Banned

    Who goes on a honeymoon with 8 other members of the family?

  • Betty J. Lovastik

    I have been cruising since the 1970's. Back in those days passengers did not contract norovirus and ships did not have hand sanitizers, All food was handled by gloved staff who placed food on your plate with tongs.

  • 40words

    Cruise ship = High probability of getting sick.

    How could they not know that??

  • Kathy

    Another case of "I'm calling my lawyer" to make a few bucks.

  • Dave

    "They're not compensating anyone in any way until medical documentation is given."

    That sounds reasonable to me. If not documentation was required, anyone could claim they got sick and ask for compensation. There were workers actively sanitizing the ship and people were obviously using soap and sanitizer if they were running out; what else would they expect the cruise line to do?

  • Yooper

    Dear professional writer: aboard, not abroad.

  • katerant

    That's life. It's always somethin'

    Aren't we glad we have science so we know how to track these things down and prevent further outbreaks?

    Yay science!

  • USAF Retired

    Sounds like the ship wasn't prepared since the hand sanitizer stations were empty.