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Trip Report Beware Norovirus epidemic on Crown Princess!

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We just returned from the 12-17 to 12-24 sailing of the Crown Princess to Bahamas, Curacao and Aruba. While I am exhausted from the trip, I felt it necessary to at least report the norovirus epidemic on the ship and warn any future sailors. The sailing we experienced was NOT the first norovirus outbreak, in fact in doing a little research, there have been several reports. We were NOT notified by email in advance as the Princess cruise line claimed. In searching Cruise Crtiic, one report so far, but I am sure there will be many others. So many disappointed people on this ship, it was really sad!

We arrived at Port Everglades at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday Dec 17, as we usually like to eat lunch on the ship when taking a cruise. The first sign of disaster was when our driver was told to take us to a convention center nearby and that we would NOT be boarding the cruise ship on time. My mother, who is 82, requested a wheel chair at the convention center, and this was a smart move for us. As we needed lunch, inquiries were made about food. The cruise line knew several days in advance that our sailing would be delayed, and that more than likely, many people would need lunch. They "graciously" provided us with free coffee, water and Crystal Light. There was a grill preparing sandwiches, for purchase ($16 for 2 horrible cheeseburgers, not much choice). The money was bad enough, but I had to wait 30 minutes in line to purchase sandwiches! The grill people were clearly overwhelmed, there weren't enough personnel and the cooks were not prepared to serve so many people. Very disorganized! My mother was frantic with worry that I had disappeared. The "convention center" waiting room reminded me of a large inner city gymnasium or more like the reception center at Ellis Island for many of our ancestors!
There was little information disseminated, merely that the ship was going through a good disenfectanct and we would be put on board after. Finally, around 3:00 p.m. we were taken on buses and told to make our way onto the ship. Overall, the embarkation process was disorganized and not enough personnel was present. The Crown Princess holds 3,400 passengers. Perhaps not all of them showed up at the Convention Center, but an awful lot did. What a way to start a relaxing vacation.

Due to the norovirus epidemic, the buffets were altered. Instead of being able to help yourself to food, servers gave you portions. The lines were long. The good news is that the ship had Purell alcohol dispensers in front of every food outlet and people were made aware of the necessity to wash your hands frequently and use the hand sanitizers.

For the first dinner Saturday night, the dining room was extremely slow and servers were clearly not familiar with the new regulations. We did not eat but one meal at a buffet for fear of the virus and took the majority of our meals in the dining room or via room service on our balcony. Our rationale was that the less people handling our food, the better. The tables lacked salt and pepper shakers, due to the fear of contamination and paper packets were dispensed. The waiters had to serve you cream/milk, sugar/sweetner, again for the same reasons. We had Anytime Dining, which actually worked out well. It allowed us to meet lots of new people and we sure had a lot to talk about with the things going on shipboard.

More to come, but wanted to begin this topic to make other future sailors aware of the virus.

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