Be careful out there ...

Jan 26th, 2014, 04:40 PM
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Be careful out there ...

Just returned from a cruise (Jan 18-25, 2014 Caribbean Princess) and we were delayed from boarding due to the "extra cleaning". We got an email prior to departure that advise us boarding will start at 2 pm instead. The reason for the delay: Gastroenteritis on board the last cruise. Through out the cruise, extra steps were taken to limit the potentials of contacting the virus such as no self service anywhere, period. Not even salt and pepper or sugar pouches. Everything was handled by a staff, even the beverage stations. It was a lot of extra work for the staff, and they worked longer hours as stations were manned when it was normally self service.

After we got back home today (Jan 26), this was on the news: CDC reported that as of January 24, 2014, on board the Explorer of the Seas, 281 of 3,050 passengers have reported symptoms that resemble norovirus. In addition 22 of 1,165 crew members have reported symptoms. This is the second Royal Caribbean ship this month to suffer the effects of a norovirus outbreak, with Majesty of the Seas having one last week. It was also reported that between 5-19, 2014, on board the Norwegian Star, 130 of 2318 passengers and 12 of 1039 crew members have reported symptoms that resemble norovirus.

Obviously, the Caribbean Princess's case was either not as wide spread (not reported by CDC yet) or had not hit the reports just yet.

All I can say is that it is all very avoidable if everyone exercise a bit of caution. Attached below is a link to the Centers for Disease Control's feature article on Staying Healthy on a Cruise. If you are new to cruising, you should read and bookmark this page. And for all the seasoned cruisers, it doesn't hurt to remind yourself from time to time the safety precautions.

What else do you do to make sure you do not get sick while on board?
Eschew is offline  
Jan 26th, 2014, 06:11 PM
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I take bleach wipes with me. As soon as I get to the cabin I wipe down as many surfaces, door knobs, drawer pulls, phone, etc. that I can. Remember to wash, wash, wash your hands. I also carry hand sanitizer with me. I have not yet gotten sick on the over 30 cruises I have taken.
BarbAnn is online now  
Jan 26th, 2014, 07:02 PM
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The dirtist and most germ infested item in a hotel room is the TV remote. Probably the same for a ship's cabin. We just wash our hands lots. Someone told me long time ago that the time needed to wash your hands properly should be about the same time it takes to sing happy birthday. Now I have this nasty habit of humming happy birthday eveyrtime I wash my hands ... LOL

Knock on wood, I have not been sick on board so far.
Eschew is offline  
Jan 26th, 2014, 10:47 PM
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I taught that to my kids. I even caught my eldest singing happy birthday while washing her hands

My wife has hand sanitizer in her bag all the time.
greggy123 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 01:17 AM
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As I understand it, drying your hands thoroughly is even more important than the washing process.
di2315 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 02:08 AM
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It is suspected that this is spread in public areas, not cabins. Railings, grab bars, tables, arm rests on chairs. Salt, pepper containers on table. Serving utensils at buffet. Use gel before you eat. Use gel after you eat. But get that norovirus on your hands and then scratch your nose, brush your hands on your lips, and you could be infected.

Once the norovirus starts to spread in the closed environment of a cruise ship, even the most careful hygiene may not prevent its spread - which is why some cruise ships attempt to confine those ill to their cabins and even close public bathrooms.
gail is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 06:40 AM
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You know, the irony here is that hand sanitizer isn't very effective against most noroviruses. Hand washing is very effective, and a follow-up with hand santizer is good, but it's by no means a substitute for hand washing.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 11:22 AM
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CDC has since updated the situation on board the Explorer of the Seas today. The report now read 577 of 3050 passengers (18.9%) and 49 of 1165 crew.(4.2%). The link to the most up to date report from CDC on the Explorer on the Sea is here:

A CDC Vessel Sanitation Program epidemiologist, one contract epidemiologist, and one VSP environmental health officer had boarded the ship in St. Thomas and are sailing on the ship as it travels back to port in New Jersey. Needness to say, the cruise is cancelled.

At 18.9%, it is really high. You seldom see double digit, let alone almsot 1 in 5. It doesn't hit CDC reports until it is around 4% or there about. The previous high % I had seen was from Celebrity Summit (Sept 21 - Oct 5, 2013) and the Crystal Symphony (Apr 29 - May 6, 2013), both at 15.3%.

Here is a list of 2013-2014 CDC cruise ship reports.

RCCL Explorer of the Seas 1/21 - 1/31
NCL Norwegian Star 1/5 - 1/19

NCL Norwegian Gem 11/16 - 11/25
Celebrity Summit 9/21 - 10/5
Celebrity Millennium 04/25 - 05/10
Crystal Symphony 04/29 - 05/06
HAL Veendam 04/13 - 05/04
Celebrity Solstice 04/08 - 04/25
Celebrity Infinity 03/17 - 04/01
Ruby Princess 03/03 - 03/10
RCCL Vision of the Seas 02/25 - 03/08

#Doug, you are correct about the hand sanitizer. It actually gave people a false sense of security.

A quick tip, the tap handles on the faucet are usually germ infested. Think about what the hand may have touched before it touched the tap. If it is not an automated water faucet, use a paper towel to turn it on or off. Also, don't touch the washroom door handles, use a paper towel to open the door instead.

One thing that I do notice is the sanitation habbits are getting worst, especailly with the younger generations. It is almost like "health and wellness" are no longer taught at school.

All I can say is just be careful out there.
Eschew is offline  
Jan 29th, 2014, 04:40 AM
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From what I read yesterday from CDC that it is nearly impossible to stop the spread of this virus. They are finding it on light fixtures and places where hands have not touched. This is so contagious that if a person threw up many feet away from others the germs spread and the amount of germs it takes to infect those around you are incredible. I have friends on Adventure of the Seas right now. I hope they will be ok. I agree the hand sanitizers are helpful but not as near as efficient as good old hand washing.
diann24 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2014, 03:04 PM
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#diann24, the Adventure of the Seas was not on the ship affected so your friends should be okay.
Eschew is offline  
Feb 1st, 2014, 09:07 PM
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It appears another ship got bitten by the norovirus bug. The latest ship that got hit was the Caribbean Princess. The same ship that we were on just the week (Jan 18-25) before! According to CDC, 181 passengers and 11 crew members got sick on their Jan 25-Feb 1 cruise. The 181 represented about 5% of the total passengers, it is bad enough but a far cry from the almost 700 that was sick at the RCCL Explorer of the sea. Here is the link to the CDC report on the Caribbean Princess.

Interesting enough, a Houston news source claimed that CDC did not find anything unusual. and I quote "A spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Chronicle that CDC investigators had found nothing unusual or unique about the Caribbean Princess illnesses as of late Friday."
The link to the KHOU news article is here.

As I have mentioned earlier, we got an email advising us to show up later for boarding as they need to do some extra cleaning on the ship. After we board the ship, there is no self service anywhere. They serve everything to you, including the buffet, and even the beverage stations.

5 days into the cruise, suddenly the restriction was lifted. Self service was back and it was "back to normal" for the remainder of the cruise (2 and a half days in all).

I asked a senior staff why the change in mid-cruise and he replied that the ship's been cleared for 48 hours with no new cases reported and all old cases were closed, meaning no one showing any symptoms for 2 days. Hence the restriction was lifted.

I guess they lifted the restriction too quickly as people got sick on the next cruise. If they would have kept the restriction on, maybe those people wouldn't got sick.

This just shows how hard it is to get rid of the virus, and how long it could linger. Either way, one have to be careful. It won't keep us from cruising, but moving forward, we will be even more diligent than ever.

Instead of saying "Happy Cruising" to wish you going on a great trip, I am going to say "Safe cruising" instead from now on.
Eschew is offline  
Feb 1st, 2014, 09:24 PM
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Looking back, it was too close for comfort. We didn't notice anyone sick wandering about the ship on our cruise. We didn't see anyone "sick". It was as normal a cruise as one would imagine, except for the self service restriction.

The crew must have done a great job quarantining and keeping things under wrap so that the majority of the passengers were not affected.

From a personal experience, I knew they took "vomiting" very seriously. A couple years ago, we saw the clean up team cleaning a public area after someone had an accident from maybe a bit too much to drink and spilled it all just outside the washroom door. The clean up crew had on all types of protection: masks, goggles, long gloves to the elbow, the works. They might as well be wearing a bio hazard suit. The whole area was sectioned off with the yellow warning tape and no one can get near.
Eschew is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 09:35 PM
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This norovirus stuff is getting to be very annoying. Another ship, this time, HAL Veendam has an outbreak. Seriously folks, just wash your hands! How hard could that be?
Eschew is offline  
Feb 26th, 2014, 02:48 PM
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Well E all it takes is one unguarded moment. It's tough to be vigilant all the time. Suppose you touch a surface that is infected then put that hand to your face to cover your mouth for a cough or sneeze. It can happen that easily.
jacketwatch is offline  
Feb 26th, 2014, 08:43 PM
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Larry, you should know by now that you don't cover your mouth for a cough or sneeze with your hand. You are suppose to raise your arm and use the pit/ or side of your elbow.

I often wonder one catch the germ on a handrail or elevator button or it is a crew member with poor hygiene, like cover mouth with hand on a cough or sneeze and failed to watch hand. It could also be a passenger who fibbed on the heath declaration.
Eschew is offline  
Feb 27th, 2014, 01:39 AM
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And that's an unguarded moment. .

I think it could be all that you said and perhaps more. If you are I'll at embarkation how many would say that on the health declaration for fear of denied boarding or at best quarantine in ones cabin.

I would hope they are honest on their disembarkation questionnaire as if they were sick their cabin would get extra sanitation measures. There was such a questionnaire on the Connie in 2010 as the bug hit us. Fortunately it put me down for only a day and a half or so and most of that was a sea day. We were in Israel and had crossed to Bethlehem. We saw the church of the Nativity then headed back as I was,symptomatic then. We waited for our Israeli driver at a souvenir shop and the owner noticed I looked poorly and gave me a shot of locally made ouzo to settle my stomach. Well it worked and I got to the ship B4 I tossed my cookies. Actually it was the best ouzo I've ever had and as it's available only in Bethlehem it's likely I'll never have it again.
jacketwatch is offline  
Feb 27th, 2014, 06:04 AM
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Larry, you just pointed out the fact that you could possibly get it while you are ashore, and brought the bug back on the ship. Many times that we looked at the food while we are ashore and we took a pass. Sometimes it is food that the ship's shore excursion company provided (the food provided for Panama Canal cruise train one is notoriously bad).

We are very adventurous on food so we may eat something that we really shouldn't. And then there are times that people go on private tours and stop at a local restaurant, eat salad or raw vegetable and that was it!

I remember on our trip to Peru we were told explicitly not to eat any salad or raw vegetables, regardless of where we are, including the big name American hotels that we were staying. And we were diligent and all was good. On our flight to Quito from Lima, we were upgraded to first class and they served a very nice 3 course meal. DW and I passed on the salad remembering the warning but my sister ate it thinking it was safe. Needless to say, she got hit.
Eschew is offline  
Feb 27th, 2014, 06:22 AM
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Absolutely true. In fact the NV on the Connie was traced to passengers who went to Jerusalem and it's no surprise at all as hundreds of people are touching the same religious icons and in one case a man kissed the slab Jesus was laid on after being taken down from the cross.

NV is hard to eradicate as the cruise before ours was stricken and despite extensive cleaning measures which caused us late boarding and stringent on board measures we got it and the cruise right after us got it as well.

Let's remember that NV was first discovered in a school in Norwalk CT. It's not the "ship" virus.

I hope we are ok on the Legend in April. We will be careful and I've already purchased travel insurance, esp. after our experience in Bangkok last fall.
jacketwatch is offline  
Feb 27th, 2014, 04:54 PM
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What happened in Bangkok last fall?
Eschew is offline  
Feb 27th, 2014, 05:06 PM
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Prior to BKK we were in India where Sue got a gi bug which hit with full fury in BKK and she was hospitalized there 5 days or for practically all,our time there. She is fine now and was well enough to be d/c'd from the hospital the day we were scheduled to leave. By great fortune I took an insurance policy offered by Allianz thru UAL. It was $50.00 and had enough coverage to pay the entire hospital bill of about 6k. Never, ever travel w/o a health care policy, especially for foreign destinations.

BTW the hospital, Samitivej provided excellent care.
jacketwatch is offline  

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