CDC Investigating a Stomach-Related-Illness Aboard the Disney Wonder UPDATE: Confirmed Norovirus

Disney Cruise Line is contacting guests booked on the upcoming 14-Night Panama Canal Cruise scheduled to leave Miami on May 1st to inform them of a stomach-related-illness affecting more than 3% of guests aboard the current Disney Wonder sailing, a 4-Night Bahamian cruise.

The CDC is monitoring the situation aboard the Disney Wonder. At the time of publication, the CDC reports 92 of 2679 (3.43%) passengers and 5 of 991 (0.5%) crew members have reported being ill during the voyage. The predominant symptom is vomiting and the suspected reason is norovirus, but the CDC has not listed a reason as the investigation is pending.

Actions: In response to the outbreak, Disney Cruise Line and the crew aboard the ship reported the following actions:

  • Increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures according to their outbreak prevention and response plan,
  • Collecting emesis and stool specimens from passenger and crew gastrointestinal illness cases for testing at CDC,
  • Making multiple daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the VSP,
  • Preparing the infection control turnaround sanitation barrier for the disembarkation Sunday, May 1, 2016 in Miami, FL and submitting to the VSP for review,
  • Sent additional medical, hotel, and sanitation personnel to oversee and assist with implementation of the sanitation and outbreak response procedures.

A CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officer is making plans to board the ship upon arrival in the port of Miami on May 1, 2016 to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities.

According to the email below, DCL is following a comprehensive plan to manage the situation and prepare the ship for the next sailing.

DCL Wonder Gastro Stomach Illness Leter April 29 2016

Should you have questions about your upcoming Panama Canal voyage, please feel free to contact us at 1-866-858-7416 or 407-566-3510. published a picture of an AGE UPDATE posted in a crew area. The notice states “We have reached over 3% of Guest/Crew being isolated, therefore we are currently at HIGH LEVEL of Virus Response Matrix.

According to CDC records, this is the first case affecting a Disney Cruise Line ship since 2002 when Norovirus impacted the Disney Magic.

Although you asked to remain anonymous, I’d like to thank the individual who shared their copy of the email.

May 2, 2016 | CDC Investigation Update on the Disney Wonder

A CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officer boarded the ship upon arrival in the port of Miami on May 1, 2016 to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities. Specimens were sent to CDC for testing.

As of May 2 the CDC’s report the shows the number of people affected have increased by 48 (131 of 2680 (4.89%) passengers and 14 of 991 (1.41%) crew members) have reported being ill during the voyage. The predominant symptoms have expanded to vomiting and diarrhea.  The CDC still has not listed a reason as the investigation is pending.

May 12, 2016 | CDC Confirms Norovirus on the Disney Wonder

On May 12, 2016, the CDC updated the investigation report with norovirus as the causitive agent following an inspectors May 1st assesment and evaluation of the onboard outbreak.

Reports from passengers sailing on the Panama Canal cruise indicate things onboard have returned to normal including self service.

52 Replies to “CDC Investigating a Stomach-Related-Illness Aboard the Disney Wonder UPDATE: Confirmed Norovirus”

  1. Ann

    This is so sad because it is avoidable. All you have to do is wash your hands properly after using the restroom. This screams of someone who had contact with food who did not practice safe hygiene. Everywhere I go, I see people leave the restroom without washing their hands. There is not excuse to be that lazy. I feel so sorry for those affected.

    1. MS81

      ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Were you on this ship? Because I was, and you know what I do? I wash and sanitize my kids’ hands every chance I get. This was something in the food on the Disney island. Thanks though, for blaming a bunch of small children and their parents. All of us who were crammed into the “health center” trying to keep our small kids hydrated really appreciate this insight.

      1. Ashley

        I guess I missed the part where Ann blamed anyone other than “someone who had contact with food who did not practice safe hygiene”

        There’s actually no mention of children at all. I’m sorry you went through that, but not everything is an attack.

  2. jimgantenbein

    Interesting. Will passengers of post-Panama Canal cruises be notified if the situation remains unimproved? We are booked on the May 18 San Diego to Vancouver BC cruise.

    1. traciamc

      We are also booked on that cruise. Hoping everything is resolved. The way I look at it, the ship should be virtually sanitized by the time we get on. #keeppositive

    2. C. Hansen

      I would suggest purchasing a product that has EGCG in it – ProtecTeaV is a sanitizer that provides a barrier of protection. available on Researched and developed by healthcare professionals.

  3. Marnix

    We just had word in our FB Group that B2B travelers will not be allowed to board before 2.30pm today. They are offered a complimentary Tour of Miami. Sounds like a serious cleaning operation.

  4. New York Pax

    We just disembarked. After the first day the self-service drinks and ice cream stations were staffed and they removed the late night snack trays from the bars. Passengers were also given wipes at every opportunity any time they entered a main room. But the pools kept closing every few hours due to “accidental release”, rumors were flying that more than 100 kids were sick, and by day 3 one of my own children was taken out by the virus for 24 hrs. Very frustrating.

  5. Nancy

    I agree with Ann and want to add that I see guests filling/refilling cups, bottles, & personal water bottles at beverage stations on Deck and inside Cabanas/Beach Blanket every time we sail and we’ve sailed 14 times with DCL. During our last cruise in November on The Magic out of Miami I stood at the beverage inside Cabanas for almost 10 minutes waiting for a woman and her 2 children to rinse out personal water bottles with the water dispenser and refill them with soda. Adding to my frustration was a crew member chatting with her as this took place.

    I excused myself for interrupting, pointed at the posted sign about not reusing cups and glasses, and reminded the crew member washing and/or refilling drinkware at beverage stations is not allowed. He laughed and told me that only referred to drinking glasses allowing the woman and children to continue. He certainly didn’t laugh when I asked to see his name badge. Yes, I reported him and the incident.

  6. Eric

    Just got off the ship. It was interesting. Pool had to be closed numerous times due to vomit. beach blanket was closed last night for cleaning and kids were throwing up the night before in the restraunts it was not a magical experience, but does happen.

  7. Alec Murray

    This is a rare for DCL. Our 10th sailing coming up in Feb, and have never had a problem and have always been impressed with DCL sanitation procedures. Once an “adult guest” over imbibed and puked in the quiet pool: DCL closed it, drained it, scrubbed in down (3 crew with brushes), sanitized it, and refilled it. Lost two days of pool time, but could not fault DCL for their actions (although many thought the passenger should have been escorted off at the next port) MHO: If you follow DCL recommendations your biggest danger is sampling food ashore! Also take care at the self serve buffets (we avoid these) because of the large open containers of food and large numbers of guests and crew in a relatively small area. I put little faith in the sneeze guards and grubby hands (adults as well as children). As always: be aware of your surroundings and proceed with caution, not paranoia.

  8. Marnix

    The terminal opened just after 11am. We checked in and are waiting for boarding, which is now supposed to start at 1.30pm. The check-in desks are wiped after each family.

  9. Vinnie

    At Port of Miami awaiting boarding for 14 night Pamama Canal cruise. Boarding is delayed and Sanitatizing Team contractor crews have been very visable. New boarding time is 1:30pm ET and Personal Navigator was updated to start at 1:45pm and shows no Beach Blanket Buffet Lunch–no food until dinner??? Better to clean throughly and be safe and keep us all healthy. Will let you know if we pulled from Port on time.

  10. Vinnie

    The Disney music has looped 3 times. 1:30pm still waiting to board … no update on boarding time announced yet.

  11. Vinnie

    Yea! We have boarded. Rooms ready at 3:30pm. There is lunch! Early seating at 6:15 and late seating at 8:30pm. Activities are around the ship until we can get in our rooms. Al is magical!

  12. Cheryl

    They are telling us as we board that rooms won’t be ready till 4. The boarding experience was badly handled, as they did not communicate any update on when boarding would start until it did at 2:15pm. Definitely starting this experience off on the wrong foot. This is our 6th Disney cruise but it may be our last.

  13. Vinnie

    What a treat! Karl Holz Disney Vacation Club and Cruise Line head is on board to apologize for delay and say safety first! Disney is a super magical organization.

    1. Jane St Onge

      Interesting to hear Karl was greeting guests when not one Disney rep was there to speak to us leaving the boat. I did ask and shared my disappointment. Very un-Disney.

  14. ringegl

    I’ve been on a DCL cruise where there was a Norovirus outbreak, and it is VASTLY underreported. They only report the cases that they actually diagnose ON THE SHIP. That means they do not count all the people who experience it, but never report it to the Medical Office. Nor do they report the ones that get it at the end of the cruise and take it off the ship with them. So if they say that 3% had it, the actual count was much higher.

    1. James a

      The other cruise lines use the same reporting method. They can only report what they know.

      As long as you use the same precautions as when riding any mass public transportation system, you will be fine. Getting kids to not put their dirty hands in their mouth or touch their face is the hard part.

    2. Jim Puckett

      We had a similar incident in 2014. My youngest (7 months old) woke up on the morning we were disembarking vomiting. We knew she got it when she spent the evening in the nursery two nights prior. We tried to tell the medical center, but no one was there that morning. My older daughter then vomited on the flight home and the rest of the family got it over the next few days. I reported it to DCL via email for their reporting procedures, but they dismissed it, stating she could have been gotten it before the cruise.

  15. Jane St Onge

    Both of my children were affected and we were isolated for 2+ days. We are avid hand washers and use antibacterial so I do not believe we are at fault. It could have been an elevator button or hand rail. Made for an absolutely awful trip. Lines out the door of vomiting people while we waited 2 1/2 hours to be seen. We were perfectly healthy coming aboard and the dr said he had never seen anything like this. It was an absolute nightmare of a trip and we had to stay in a tiny room for days. I blame Disney and expect reimbursement.

    1. MS81

      YES! We were on the trip and had the SAME experience. If I read one more comment about parents not washing their kids’ hands my head will explode. Have you heard anything from Disney yet? I have written an email but not response. So magical of them not to even try to contact those of us who were impacted by this nightmare.

  16. Marnix

    Yes. Was a surprise to see him.
    In other news: drink station and ice cream are no self service. Galley tour is cancelled. Crew has gone throug one hell of a clean.

  17. Joyce

    Agree 100% with Nancy. Feel they’ve been getting careless in allowing people to do this. Also, when they distribute those handwipes when you go into meals – I’ve seen people take the wipe from the crew member and simply throw it in the trash – no hand wiping. I think passengers view these handwipes a joke and a waste of time. This really needs to be emphasized to passengers. I work in healthcare – all you have to do is touch a contaminated elevator button and then pick up a piece of food with that same hand – and bingo, you’re sick. A handwipe would help to eliminate any potential contaminate that was encountered prior to eating. Maybe they should put a box of handwipes on the table as well.

  18. Marnix

    Ok. Update: several suitcases were dropped in the water when loading onto the Wonder. One of those contained critical medication for the passenger. This has now been ordered from a local pharamcy as the ship’s medical center doesn’t have it. After that has been delivered we will leave. This is estimated to be around 10pm Miami time.

  19. Mary

    Annnnd that’s why you don’t check your meds. I never do. It amazes me don’t pay attention to the ‘don’t do this’ recommendations. We’re off on the Wonder when it gets to SD and very excited!

    1. GB

      It was a very bad experience. Our grandson got sick and today getting off his mother, our daughter-in-law, also got sick, so vastly under reported. We had to miss so much of the trip we had planned. Crew was very helpful, however too little too late for us. Contacting DCL tomorrow!

  20. Mae

    It is 8:40pm and we are still on port… it seems a luggage container fell in the ocean while being loaded on the ship. Some suitcases floated and were fished out, some sank to the bottom of the ocean. So DCL has summoned divers to retrieved the luggage. Sounds like people with involved the bags that were involved have been notified. Pretty sure DCL will make it right with them.

  21. Mirabelle

    FYI, haven’t left port yet. They are telling us now it is 10pm. At least they are giving us $25 OBC per person.

  22. notsure001

    Suitcase dropped in the water => somebody didn’t tip the thugs loading the baggage in Miami.

  23. Molly G.

    This was my families first DCL cruise and i got sick and had to be quarantined for 24 hours. That was early Friday morning and today is Monday and i am just today feeling completely recovered from constant queasiness, fatigue, and headaches. I missed 3 whole days of the cruise (time with my family, food, shows, the bahamas, and all the other amenities).

  24. Bianca

    I LOVE Disney Cruiselines. I have cruised with the company over 10 times and have never had an issue. I did notice, however, that on my last trip on the Wonder out of San Juan in January 2016, staff was not as careful distributing wipes as in previous cruises. It did caught my attention at the time and had a deja vu after reading the sad news.

  25. Patrick Brown

    Please people, someone calm down take a breath. I understand where all this rage is coming from. Disney cruises are not cheap. Getting sick happens. Lost luggage happens. I’ve been sick on Disney cruise line before and stayed in room for days not fun. Did I blame Disney? No. Are they cleaning the ship now? Getting underway late? Yes. Stateroom credit? Yes. It sounds all ok at this point. I will call the cruise line tomorrow and yell at the person who answers the phone because it was their fault. Lol people.

    1. Ann

      Agree. There is nothing Disney, or any other company, can do about Norovirus if people are pigs and do not wash their hands. Disney goes above and beyond trying to get people to stay safe and healthy.

      1. Joyce

        Agree – not Disney’s fault – carelessness of passengers in not washing hands and if they are not feeling well, but they aren’t sick, yet – instead of remaining in cabin, continuing to go to meals and shows – thereby exposing other passengers and crew. You are usually contagious before you realize you are sick.

        1. bryguy2298

          @Joyce. So if we have a headache or nausea (which is natural for many people on a boat) we should stay in our room the whole vacation? It was carelessness and trying to cover up a boat wide illness by Disney. You weren’t there so why do you feel the need to comment?

      2. bryguy2298

        Disney knew about this Day 1 and NEVER ONCE mentioned it to passengers. My wife became ill on day 2. Kids were fine. We are not pigs and maybe if we knew something was going around we could have been more careful than we already are.

  26. John

    We’ll be on the Wonder immediately after the Panama cruise. I hope all goes well for the passengers on that cruise.

    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      I received an email from a passenger on the Disney Wonder. She said things should return to normal after the the stop in Columbia later this week as long as there are no additional issues.

  27. Natalie

    I was on a Wonder Repo Cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles in 2011. I caught the norovirus on the second day and was quarantined for the remainder of the cruise. I had taken several DCL trips previously and that was my first experience with any illness at sea. I will say that my beef with passenger hygiene is that many families and Disney relied on antibacterial gels and wipes to sanitize kids hands (and their own). I won’t launch into a rant on those items because I don’t think this the place for it but maybe, instead of just quietly offering a wipe upon entering a buffet or restaurant, maybe they could have also mentioned washing hands in the nearby bathrooms as an option. I realize there is no way to verify if the passengers did in fact wash up but I have also previously witnessed guests simply tossing the antibacterial sheets in the trash.

  28. Ewan

    This is obviously terrible for the people affected (and it will indeed be way more than 3%) but Disney gets its cleanup right. I trust them. I’ve had norovirus before on land and it’s not fun, not by a long shot, but DCL is doing all it can.

  29. Marnix

    On Panama Canal day we have returned to self service. Obviously we have done a good job at hygene. Now for a safe journey through the Canal, which will be her last WBPC through the old locks.

  30. Rose W

    I was on the panama canal crossing just finished. I was very impressed with the amount of cleaning and attention paid to all areas of the ship. Did we board late? yes, did we leave port late? yes. were some mistakes made in an effort to speed things along? yes. But I am sure that the president of the cruiseline would have been there sooner if he could have to speak to guests but I am guessing he had other triage to handle. They changed all of the pillows and other linens in the room including books and stationary. This was a huge undertaking and I know the crew worked very hard to get it in shape for the new guests. When we mentioned their hard work they almost all said that there was no need to talk about it…we were ther now and they were happy to see us. They slowly returned service to normal and I was happy with how they handled the situation.
    We also had to make an unexpected detour to Acapulco for a medical emergency. This was a problem filled cruise but Disney handled it well IMO.

  31. Fran ribaudo

    The one thing nobody mentions about cleaning your hands with a wipe entering the restaurant is that infected people may cough or sneeze in their hands then return to a self service area. Now the tongs are infected and anyone using them from there on can pick up the virus. We always travel with our own hand wipes and reclean hands upon returning to our table before we touch our food. It seems to help except our last cruise on the fantasy on 5/20/16. My husband woke up on the morning we got back and I got it 2 days later.


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