Q – We are lucky enough to have friends who share our lives and travel – and have for the past 31 years. But just as we are ready to sit down and find the cruise itinerary of our dreams on one of the smaller, more deluxe ships described on this site, our friends have thrown some bugs into the mix. None of us has ever cruised. My girlfriend feels that norovirus on cruise ships is a real issue and she is trying to talk her husband out of going for fear she will be stricken. Our local news channel in Tampa had a short story about this happening on a Miami-based ship and she is freaking out with the possibilities. 

A – Tell your dear friend she is ignoring the facts. The fact is that norovirus outbreaks are much more common in movie theaters, shopping centers, schools,  and hospitals. We happen to have the figures for 2013 in front of us – 834 cruise passengers were affected out of 10.1 million sailed. That is a percentage of 0.008.  Norovirus does exist on cruise ships but it appears most often on 5,000 passenger floating Petri dishes. Cost is related to cleanliness – unfortunately since the bulk of the American cruise industry involves mega-ship bookings, no one ever talks about this.