Really interesting and distressing story in the New York Times a few days about: A Luxury Liner Docks and the Countdowns On by Jad Mouawad. So many parts of this story have microbe-themed angles. Some interesting tidbits (quoted from the story)
- A treatment system handles all the wastewater generated by the passengers and crew. That system, which processes 1,200 tons of wastewater a day, uses bacteria to break down waste, then mechanical and chemical systems to remove solids, and finally ultraviolet light to disinfect. The water at the end is clean enough to drink but is discarded in the sea. Any remaining solids are held in special tanks to dry and be incinerated.
- Bottles, cans and compost are crushed and frozen in cold-temperature rooms to prevent the spread of bacteria
- 189 housekeepers can get more than 2,700 rooms ready by noon.
- A norovirus outbreak is one of would-be cruisers’ biggest fears. Royal Caribbean said the virus was usually brought on board by passengers who were already sick. For that reason, there are hand-sanitizing stations throughout the ship …
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted at least eight instances of norovirus contaminations infecting more than 3 percent of passengers for ships arriving in United States ports last year.
The whole thing seems both fascinating (in terms of the complexity and engineering of the whole operation) and distressing (so little time is spent on cleaning – no wonder Norovirus is a problem). It seems like Cruise Ships are just ripe (so to speak) for more details microbial ecology studies.