Medical logs of 2,445 cruises taken by 38 vessels over a 20-month period beginning Jan 1, 1972, were reviewed. On 92% of the cruises, the recorded incidence of gastrointestinal illness was 1% or less; on 2% of cruises, it was 5% or greater. The actual incidence of gastrointestinal illness determined by a questionnaire survey of passengers sailing on nine cruises was found to be at least four times as high as that recorded in the medical logs. Although the cause of the illnesses was not known, there was evidence that transmission took place aboard ship. A survey of food-handling practices and water systems aboard selected ships demonstrated a significant potential for transmission of foodborne and waterborne disease.
(JAMA 231:723-727, 1975)