Think cruise ship and three things immediately come to mind: exotic locales, all-you-can-eat buffets and norovirus. Reports of widespread outbreak on ships seem frequent but ironically, the chances of catching norovirus or any other gastrointestinal illness is actually higher on land. It’s the CDC’s strict guidelines--outbreaks that affect 3% or more of the passengers or crew must be reported—that make the virus seem more prevalent at sea than it is.
Nevertheless, perception is as good as reality in this $37.85 Billion-dollar business. That makes cruise ship cleaning important to protecting both passengers’ health and a cruise line’s reputation.
Norovirus is shorthand for a group of viruses that affect the stomach and large intestines. The symptoms are exactly what you’re imagining: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps along with headache and fever. It can be spread through contaminated food or water but on cruise ships it’s typically passed through physical contact with sick people and the surfaces they touch, particularly in public restrooms.
The good news is symptoms usually last one or two days. The tricky part is it can take anywhere from one to three days for symptoms to appear after exposure. Even more worrying, people can be contagious for as long as two weeks after recovery. This means guests and crew can infect and re-infect others without even knowing they’re sick.
Every Deck is The Poop Deck
It may be unfair that cruises and norovirus are linked. After all, any environment with a lot of people--think nursing homes, hotels, classrooms or dorms--are potential hotspots. But ships are isolated islands, even the enormous ones that carry enough more passengers than some towns, so there is no escape. Add in the cost of a cruise and the potential of a ruined vacation and it’s no wonder the CDC publishes The Green Sheet Report which lists a sanitation inspection score for every cruise ship.
Getting Ship Shape
The spread of norovirus and other gastrointestinal illnesses can be slowed or stopped with proper cruise ship cleaning protocol, particularly in public restrooms. Unfortunately a report shows that only 37% of selected toilet area objects in these areas were cleaned on a daily basis.
Make cleaning public restrooms easier by using a spray-and-vac system. Systems like this are fast, allowing staff to cover more area in a shorter amount of time. They remove soils and contaminants, unlike mops or rags which swab the dirt around. And they’re touchless, so staff isn’t at risk of contracting or spreading disease.
For more ideas on better cruise ships cleaning click here.
Image source: freeimages.com
Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.