Thursday, June 20

Avoid Norovirus On A Cruise Ship: Simple And Easy Tips

Cruising is a great way to grab some winter sun but at this time of year also brings with it a pesky downside – it’s generally the peak of the dreaded Norovirus season. That makes it a great opportunity to share my tips to help you avoid Norovirus on a cruise.

Tips to Avoid Norovirus on a cruise ship. Right to left: Adventure of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Royal Princess and Norwegian Sun at the end.

For those who haven’t heard of this, Norovirus – also known as Winter Vomiting Bug – is basically a yukky virus that causes vomiting, upset tummy, lethargy, aches, fever – and oh, happens to be highly contagious.

You can catch Norovirus anywhere and everywhere but when you have a lot of people in a relatively confined area (like a cruise ship) the virus has the potential to spread quickly in a short of amount of time.

The good news is that all cruise ships have procedures in place to keep the gastro-beast at bay –  if nothing else, sick passengers is bad for business. But, there are also some easy things you can do yourself to avoid Norovirus on a cruise and minimise the risk.


5 Easy Tips To Help Avoid Norovirus On A Cruise Ship


Wash your hands regularly with good old soap and hot water

One way to help avoid Norovirus on a cruise ship is to regularly wash your hands. OnePennyTourist.comSounds obvious huh? But washing your hands properly and thoroughly is basically the single best method to combat Norovirus.

Always wash hands before and after eating, especially if you’re visiting a buffet, and if you’re in public areas where you may be touching lots of communal items – chairs, glasses, handrails – even laminated menus.

Make sure you wash using hot water, not cold and do this for at least 20 seconds with plenty of soap. Don’t forget to wash the backs of your hands too!


Avoid public bathrooms/restrooms when possible.

Avoid Norovirus on a cruise ship by trying not to touch public door handles as much as possible.

If you do use one, try to avoid touching the door handle as you exit with your lovely clean hands – not everyone may be as diligent with hand washing as you (Ewwww!).

Consider using a paper hand towel to grasp the handle. The bin / trash can is usually located near the door so it’s easy to toss away as you leave.


Avoid directly touching elevator buttons, stairway rails etc.

Avoid norovirus on a cruise ship by not touching 'high traffic' places with your hands, like elevator buttons. OnePennyTourist.comLots of potential for contamination here – ideally use your elbow to press the button, however if flailing elbows feels too awkward (or embarrassing), at least use the heel of your hand rather than your fingers.

If you’re on the stairs, lean into the stairway rail with your body so it’s helping you balance rather than hold on. Obviously not falling down stairs is a bigger priority if the ship is rocking so use common sense on that one!


Sanitise your hands whenever the opportunity is presented.

There are usually wipes or pumps with hand sanitiser at the entrance to every ship restaurant. Always take advantage of sanitisers when you can. Note that this should be considered an additional step to washing your hands, not a replacement for it.

Norovirus hates hand sanitiser - so use it whenever you have the opportunity on a cruise ship.
Personally I also like to bring along some of those pocket sized anti-bacterial gels too. Especially the yummy smelling ones like Toasted Vanilla Chai, Purrfect Pumpkin or basically anything from Bath and Body Works.


Be vigilant.
Look for Norovirus symptoms in fellow cruise passengers. Self denial and the desire to experience their cruise means you may be aware of the severity of a passenger's sickness before they are.

One of the reasons Norovirus can spread is because people who have it, don’t always realise or admit it to themselves that they are sick quickly enough. If you see a person looking visibly under the weather, try to avoid sitting or standing near them.

Norovirus likes buffets - if you see a serving utensil laying too far in a dish of food, consider avoiding it. OnePennyTourist.comIf you’re at the buffet and the handle of a utensil is sitting further in the dish than it should, avoid eating that particular dish. It’s no different from a person touching the food directly with their hand and you wouldn’t think that was hygienic now, would you?



With that all said – don’t panic!

Every winter there is at least 2 or 3 cruise ship ‘horror stories’ about Norovirus where a couple of hundred people have it or a ship returns to port early. BUT, considering how many people cruise on a weekly basis, this is – pardon the pun – still a drop in the ocean.

Remember the media love a good attention grabbing headline, the reality is that the chances are still fairly low that you will get it. Taking some simple, basic precautions is always a good idea, but don’t get paranoid and let it overshadow your cruise.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did then please consider sharing this with your friends. We all want to avoid Norovirus on a cruise so the more people taking simple, basic precautions, the better it is for everyone on board the ship.

First time cruiser? You might also be interested in my newbie cruise tips. You can also visit my dedicated Cruising section for more tips and ports of call trip reports.

Happy sailing 🙂

Penny - Writer and owner of Travel Blog -