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Video: Getting Sick On A Cruise Ship (Norovirus) And What You Need To Know

Summary: Despite all of the scary headlines, your odds of getting sick on your cruise are just one in 14,000.

Video Run Time: 2:18

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Video Transcript:

Every year the headlines are the same: Sick ship! Hundreds of passengers fall ill on Caribbean cruise! 2013 saw nine outbreaks of illness on cruise ships, with a total of about 1,200 cruise ship passengers diagnosed onboard according to the CDC.

While this sounds like a big number, that's out of more than 16.7 million cruise passengers in 2013. That makes your odds against getting this virus on a cruise about 14,000 to one!

The virus responsible for all of these outbreaks is a very common one called "norovirus." You've probably had it--your Mom might have called it the "24-hour flu" or the "stomach flu," and it's often mistaken for food poisoning. About 20 million Americans contract this virus each year, or roughly one person in 15.

The average American is almost 1,000 times more likely to contract norovirus during any given year than the average cruise passenger is to get sick with the ailment while onboard ship. Not too scary when you look at it that way, is it?

So if the risk of getting sick is so tiny, why do we keep hearing about it? All ships entering U.S. ports must report every onboard illness to the CDC, and the CDC must make a public announcement anytime 3% of a ship's passengers have the same issue. The media treats each announcement as a big news story, and there you are.

You've probably heard the one-liner about the lottery being a tax on people who are bad at math, and it applies here. Because so many people are scared away by headlines, each announcement lowers cruise demand, and cruise prices go down.

Which of course means great cruise bargains out there for the rest of us.

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