What are the chances of infection during a cruise?
The following survey is integrated with Staying Healthy on Cruise Vacation.
For US travelers, we hope they’re slim at this time, as it's not so easy to contract the virus. A passenger would have to come into close contact with the infected person.
The Ebola infection could come from the infected bodily fluids or through contaminated needles, which would also require travel to one of the affected countries in West Africa (Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia). Prudently, cruise lines are avoiding the West African ports. Holland America, Seabourn, Regent and Fred Olsen are dropping all ports in Gambia, Ghana, and Senegal. Princess is considering rerouting the West Africa 30-day Adventure. Royal Caribbean doesn’t call on any potentially dangerous ports, although ironically, the line is incorporated in West Africa in order to avoid taxes and regulations.
The scare of Ebola has lowered cruise stocks. Carnival stock price is 5.5 percent down, NCL fell 2.8 percent, Royal Caribbean - 5.9, even though not sailing near the infected area. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) says that by January 2015 as many as 1,400.000 could be the number of the infected people.
Unfortunately, many passengers don't disclose their illnesses before or during the cruise because they are afraid of being barred from ship or confined to cabin. Employees do not report to the infirmary on board because they are afraid of losing their tips. Cruise ships are currently not prepared to handle with an infected Ebola victim.
Unlike norovirus (lasting a few days), Ebola is deadly. The victims need specialized and immediate treatment that a ship cannot provide. An outbreak of Ebola on a cruise ship would result in deaths. There is no vaccine for Ebola yet. Hopefully the virus won’t spread to Europe and find way onto cruise ships.