Cruise Ship Captains: The Untouchables

Open Jaw

Approximately 80% of infectious diseases, including norovirus, can be spread via the traditional palm-to-palm handshake. So now, in addition to the mandatory life boat drill, your cruise clients have a new security policy to follow: don’t touch the captain.

In order to contain the spread of norovirus, a number of cruise lines have instituted a ‘no handshake’ policy with crew members.

Crystal spokesman Paul Garcia points out that, “While the captain is very pleased to meet all our guest she refrains from shaking hands as an additional preventive measure.”

This could certainly make the traditional formal evening receiving line a tad awkward. Fist bumps? Elbow taps? Or, there’s always the 30 second eye to eye stare popular among meditation aficionados.  

Some people might say the handwringing over handshaking is much ado about nothing. According to the CDC, there were 9 cruise ship outbreaks last year that sickened roughly 1,600 pax. That’s less than 1% of North America’s 11 million cruise ship pax in 2014, and an even smaller fraction of the 20 million norovirus cases recorded in the U.S. each year.

The problem is that whenever norovirus does strike a cruise, it makes international headlines, reignites health fears about the safety of cruising and scares past and potential future pax from setting foot aboard a ship. The cruise lines see anti-handshaking policies as yet another ounce of norovirus prevention that could help avert a ton of negative coverage.

A norovirus expert, Dr. Bradberry has this suggestion: “A fist-to-fist ‘handshake’ is less risky.”

We can probably expect other eyebrow-raising measures as cruise lines find that media-driven norovirus hysteria is very hard to shake. 





(will not be published)