State Confirms Norwalk Virus on Pride of Hawaii

Mary Alice McElwain
Mary Alice McElwain
Shane Sumida
Shane Sumida

By Mari-Ela David

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Pride of Hawaii ship left Honolulu Harbor again Monday night with hundreds of passengers.

But some vacationers who just completed their trip truly had a sickening experience. They were struck with a highly contagious virus.

On Monday, the Department of Health turned in lab results showing the Norwalk virus was present on the ship.

But the outbreak didn't stop the ship from setting sail again.

The ship left Honolulu Harbor at 8:00 p.m. Monday night for another voyage. The Norwegian Cruise Line gave passengers the choice to back out if they felt uncomfortable.

This, after the ship returned early in the morning and dropped off people infected with the virus.

2500 passengers aboard the Pride of Hawaii didn't expect what was to come on the horizon when they set sail a week ago, particularly honeymooners Shane and Kelly Sumida.

"I developed gastrointestinal problems, kind of spent the night in and out of the bathroom," said Shane.

"He said he felt really sick and I felt him and I knew he was running a fever and he said 'I feel really lousy' so we ended up calling the infirmary," said Kelley.

Shane is among more than 200 passengers infected with the highly contagious Norwalk virus. Shane recovered within a day, but the couple says there were those who were worse off.

"A number of people looked really bad and I know there were people who were suffering from major dehydration and I believe they had both vomiting as well as diarrhea," said Kelley.

Kelley did not get sick, but was quarantined with her husband for 24 hours to make sure she did not get the virus from Shane.

The outbreak hit national headlines but didn't seem to phase a fresh round of passengers boarding for the ship's next inter-island voyage.

"I worked in a school district, kids got viruses, just passed it around, I don't think it's much different," said passenger Mary Alice McElwain.

As the Norwegian Cruise Line ship sets sail for another weekly cruise, The Food and Drug Administration continues to investigate, hoping the Pride of Hawaii comes back virus-free.

The Norwalk virus is spread person-to-person, or through contaminated food, water, or surfaces. People typically recover within 24 hours.