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Stop Calling Cruise Ships "petri dishes"

If your definition of a 'petri dish' to be avoided is a cruise ship, then you should probably just stay home and never leave. All gathering spaces are potential health issues, but cruise ships are among the only required by law to report any outbreaks.

In light of the current situation, cruise lines have taken a beating on health issues through no fault of their own. Cruise ships are no more a 'petri dish' than your school, church, shopping mall, convention centers, sports stadium, theme park or hotel. The difference is they have to actually report norovirus outbreaks while the others don't.

Here's a sensible explanation of why you shouldn't single out cruise ships as 'petri dishes.'

Full Transcription. Apologies for any typos.

0:00 Hey folks, welcome back to Where's Walter? Stop calling cruise ships a floating petri dish. 0:14 In light of the current situation, there have been articles, there have been a lot of posts, cruise ships are bad, see people get sick. And when that one person gets sick, they pass it on to everybody else. Cruise ships are just bad. They're a floating petri dish.

Do you know how many people have told me that? Even long before any of this happened? Like how can you go there? You know why I can go there because you go to Disney World. You go to Las Vegas Conventions. You go to sporting events. You go to concerts. You want to talk about petri dishes. On land, it's the same thing.

Okay, follow along with me. The largest cruise ships right now. Royal Caribbean, they hold between 5500 and 6600 passengers, something like that. So all in one the ship plus the crew. Right. Now, this is a big hotel. It just happens to float. It's a big floating resort.

Okay, let's compare that.

Now the Magic Kingdom, 100,000 people full capacity. One place, everybody all jammed together, eating the same food, going to the same bathrooms, kids running around licking the poles and all of that. There's a petri dish for you.

Let's see Michigan's football stadium that holds 107,000 people. There's a high school in New York 8000 students, one school. That's incredible. Madison Square Garden holds over 20,000 people. The CES convention in Las Vegas 180,000 people all coming together. You know, we have mega-churches here in Georgia 10,000 to 30,000 people shaking hands, hugging, sharing fellowship. If somebody is sick in that church, they are going to pass it along to anybody who they just shook hands with or hugged with.

So to call a cruise ship, a floating petri dish, and then not consider anything else where there are large gatherings of people, just singles out the cruise lines unnecessarily.

And here's the big difference between a cruise ship and any other public gathering that you're going to go to. Cruise ships, have a crew, cruise ships have a crew there could be 500 to 3000 members of the crew.

And when we get off the ship and we get to go home, they (the crew) still live there. So they are very incentivized to make sure that ship is as sanitary and as clean as absolutely possible and they do a very, very good job of it.

We went on a cruise one time where they actually had a norovirus outbreak on the previous cruise. Now that's you know, stomach ailment that does make you feel sick, you might get some diarrhea. And that's the thing that everybody's, "Oh, you don't want to get that." First of all it's very rare. But on this particular cruise, there were over 300 passengers on the previous sailing who got sick. And the cruise line notified us with a note saying hey, this is what happened on the previous cruise. We're going to do things a little differently on this cruise. And absolutely nobody got sick on our sailing. And we had over 2200 passengers on the ship. So the cruise lines know how to deal with that and they know how to keep things clean.

In fact, we looked up the statistics. Between 2008 and 2014, 74 million passengers sailed on cruise ships. 74 million. And out of that, about 13,000 met the definition of getting sick with norovirus. 13 thousand out of 74 million. I'll take those odds all day long.

Now, I don't work for a cruise line. I'm not sponsored. I don't even have stock in a cruise line. I probably should be based on the prices that are out there today. Right? I should buy some stock. But I just wanted to clarify for all of you who, "I don't want to cruise, I don't think you should cruise. And here's why. Because everybody gets sick. When one person gets sick, everybody gets sick."

It's no different than any other public space where there are large gatherings of people. Look, what happened in the current situation. It's just really a breakdown in the governments in my opinion, and it's a very sad state of affairs because when somebody gets really sick, when somebody gets really really injured on a cruise ship, the first thing they do is make sure that those passengers get off the ship to go get proper medical attention. Just like any hotel would do, just like any sports venue would do, just like any other location on land would do. If somebody is injured or sick to the point that they can't treat the person at that venue, they get them off, off-site, off the ship, out of the venue.

And in the current situation, no fault of the cruise lines. They had people who were very, very sick on these ships, they needed to get them off the ships, but nobody would let them. So don't tell me that cruise lines are a floating petri dish and people are getting sick.

If you're concerned about that, then don't go to church. Don't go to school. Don't go to sports stadiums. Don't go to any convention. Don't go to a hotel or resort. Just stay home. Stay in your little protective cocoon because that's the only way to not be anywhere near what you would consider a petri dish.

I'm sure you guys have a lot of comments. I would love to hear them. I'd love to hear what your take is, whether you've cruised or not cruised, leave them down there in the comments. If you'd like what we're doing on this channel, make sure you subscribe. Click that little bell icon so that you're notified of more cruise tips, travel tips, we got recipes and we've got some mixology. I'm Walter and I'll see you next time.

Research Links

CDC Report on Norovirus and Cruise Ships.


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