Can You Get Legionnaires Disease on a Cruise Ship?

By Anna Duncan

Legionnaires Disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. It has been linked to cruise ships, and many people are concerned about the safety of taking a cruise. So, can you get Legionnaires Disease on a cruise ship?

The short answer is yes, you can get Legionnaires Disease while on a cruise ship. Cruise ships are not immune to outbreaks of this disease, as evidenced by the 2006 outbreak aboard the MS Oceana which caused four deaths and over 200 cases of illness. The source of the outbreak was traced back to contaminated hot tubs onboard the ship.

Fortunately, steps have been taken to reduce the risk of Legionnaires Disease outbreaks on cruise ships. Cruise lines are now required by law to take measures such as regularly testing water systems for contamination and implementing disinfection systems for hot tubs and other water sources. They also must provide hand sanitizer throughout the ship and post signs reminding passengers to practice good hygiene.

In addition, some cruise lines are taking extra precautions such as installing chlorine dioxide generators in their water systems. These generators create chlorine dioxide gas which kills off any Legionella bacteria present in the water supply. This additional step helps protect passengers from becoming infected with Legionnaires Disease while onboard a cruise ship.


Although it is possible to contract Legionnaires Disease while on board a cruise ship, steps have been taken to reduce the risk. Cruise lines are required by law to take certain measures such as regular testing and disinfection procedures, and some lines have even installed chlorine dioxide generators in their water systems for added protection. Therefore, it is possible for passengers to enjoy cruises without having to worry about getting sick from this potentially deadly form of pneumonia.