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LBloom Dec 26th, 2011 08:36 AM

Beware Norovirus epidemic on Crown Princess!
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.

Aristotle Dec 26th, 2011 09:06 AM

The risk of a norovirus outbreak is present on any ship on any sailing. It really is a risk on any cruise, or actually being present in any crowd. Presumably the line will disinfect the ship after an outbreak.

Percy Dec 26th, 2011 11:31 AM

It is a tough break to get a Norovirus ( or any virus ) infection on a cruise ship.

I am sure the ship took what precautions were needed.

Cannot think of a cruise ship wanting their passengers to get sick..that is really not good for advertising !

If the ship knew days in advance they should have e-mailed you.

Delaying your boarding and then selling you $ 8.00 cheesburgers , is poor PR on their part.

Too bad there is no treatment for this virus.. except fluid intake, hand washing and resting.

Also you do not have immunity for the next Norovirus encounter.

The fact that the illness is self- limiting is little comfort when you are on holidays and sick

( When I go on a cruise , I always hope , that no viral break-out occurs).

Hope the rest of your trip has a happy ending

jacketwatch Dec 26th, 2011 12:12 PM

Well we both became ill form NV on the celebrity Constellation not too long ago. This marked the 2nd consecutive outbreak on this ship. We too were delayed from boarding and also saw the extra burden the serving staff had to go through which i think was well done BTW.

Its unfortunate but its also a risk you should know about as it can happen on any ship. I assume you dod not become ill. That is good. Too bad a bout the inconveiniences but at least you kept your head out of the toilet. :D

Maudie Dec 26th, 2011 06:10 PM

I caught NV on one of the Hurtigruten ships in 2008, the staff did their best under trying circumstances but we were basically ignored for the confinement. Weird as I was fine after a good nights sleep and my DH didn't catch it at all. Last year we did a 21 day Pacific crossing on the Oriana and not a sign of NV - what a relief!!!

I do hope your cruise improved.

Sassafrass Dec 26th, 2011 10:11 PM

I hope their precautions worked and passengers on CP did not get sick. Unless they have extra people who are already trained, I don't see how they could do much better, except that food should be free. If they know far enough ahead, they could set up food, but they don't want to do a buffet under those conditions, and create more possibility of illness.

I was on the same cruise as Jacket. We went through similar things before boarding, except they were not selling anything. While it wasn't fun, I was glad they were trying to prevent more illness. Luckily, DH and I did not get sick, but we took every precaution possible, and we were not on any of the ship's tours. The crew on the Constellation were so obviously overworked trying to serve everybody individually, even at the buffet. They really did their best. I read on cruise critic though that they had even more sickness on the cruise after ours. Really bad for everybody, but I don't see how anything more could be done on the ship.

If the company knows ahead that the problem is severe, they should notify passengers so they could have the option earlier of changing dates/cruises.

Constellation did make an announcement that any passengers who wished to cancel the cruise would be allowed to do so and money refunded or applied to a future cruise. In hind sight, I might have done that and stayed in Istanbul the whole time, not because of the virus, but because I loved the time in Istanbul so much after the cruise.

jacketwatch Dec 27th, 2011 01:19 AM

Sass when did they make that announcement? I did not hear it. Anyway how are you? Dinner with you and the dogster was the onboard highlight of the ship for us. it sure was fun :-)

dogster1 Dec 27th, 2011 02:03 AM

Yup, I didn't hear that either jacket - although I do remember something about 'if you're ill, perhaps you should consider deferring your sailing...' stuff. I did see a lady exiting before she'd even begun.

Sass is right - it was a bit of a disappointment: not really the cruise I <i>thought</i> I had bought - apart from meeting y'all. That was great.

Of course, immediately after meeting <i>me</i>, jactet fell ill. Do you think there's a lesson there?

qwovadis Dec 27th, 2011 05:23 AM

Don't risk spoiling your cruise vacation with an unexpected illness. Follow these tips for a safe and healthy cruise

Good info Norovirus can be a big time short term problem.

LBloom Dec 27th, 2011 05:51 AM

The issue of NV is a risk you encounter on a cruise ship. What upsets me, and makes me not want to sail on Princess again, is their response to the outbreak and their handling of ill passengers. As I was tired yesterday, I couldn't complete the trip report..

We encountered a toilet that literally exploded on the 3rd day of the cruise. In an attempt to stop the flowing dirty water, I knocked over a bottle of nail polish in the bathroom, which cracked and cut my finger badly. In response to our call, the maintenace person fixed the toilet but kept muttering about how we would be held responsible for the stain the nail polish caused on the bathroom floor (ultimately this did not happen, but only after an argument). No inquiry was made about my bad cut nor an offer to see the ship's DR (for free, only a hefty $50 fee). I disinfected it myself and taped it up with supplies I had with me. This lack of passenger concern on the ship's staff seemed a theme on this ship.

We had very bad weather, which is not the fault of the ship, but again their response to passengers is the key. My mother became very seasick after midnight on the 4th day, we had gale force winds and the ship literally knocked us out of our beds. I called Passenger Services to see if someone could deliver some Dramamine to our cabin. Granted this was past midnight, but staff work 24X7 and someone should have been available. The woman who answered the phone was blatant about not being able to help us. I asked for her manager/supervisor and reached a man who hemmed and hawed. Finally, I asked where we could get some relief at this hour. The "hidden agenda" item they did not reveal so easily is that they wanted $3.50 for the Dramamine and we would need to pay for it. Aside from it being ridiculous, I told him to deliver the Dramamine. My mother almost instantly felt better and went back to bed without further incident. Surely we were not the only people out of 3,400 passengers to feel the effects of the storm.

The one and only time we ventured to the Horizon Court buffet, we shared a table with a woman who seemed very nice. Upon conversing with her, we discovered she was traveling with several sons/daughters and grandchildren. Three of whom were isolated/confined for the NV! Not only that but she shared that they had snuck one of the grandchildren out of the cabin before the confinement period was over! OMG, we had lunch with Typhoid Mary!

We actually witnessed a couple of people heaving during a demonstration in the 3 story Atrium. The crew who came to clean up had masks and gloves - what about the rest of us?

jacketwatch Dec 27th, 2011 06:40 AM

Too bad you had such a bad time.

I think it is up to you to see the MD about your cut. Don't expect a maintenance man to give medical advice.

The price for the dramamine seems reasonable. I would not expect it to be free. We once had to see the ships MD as my wife became ill due to mal de mer and it was after hrs. We went and were charged a fee but thats to be expected. She did well and the MD was professional. This was on the Tahitian Princess BTW.

That woman is to blame for letting her kids out B4 the confinement period was over.

I wonder why people were out watching a demo while they were sick? I had NV on the Connie and didn't feel like leaving my bed. NV is very difficult to contain. The clean up crew were wearing appropriate PPE and as its transmitted via airborne routes as well as contact masks at that point were too late.

Honestly I think you should be disappointed but to me you are stretching things a bit. As you are so disappointed you should try a different cruise line if you decide to cruise at all again. Good luck. JM2C. Larry

jacketwatch Dec 27th, 2011 06:41 AM

I should say mask were too late for the people exposed in the atrium area.

shergriff Dec 27th, 2011 03:28 PM

I was on the same cruise. We did get an email. I did get norovirus. We were told we would have to pay for the visit from the nurse, laundry would be free and I was confined to the stateroom for 48+ hours. Nurse visit was not on bill laundry was. Wanted bottled water ($3/bottle)was told I had to pay for it. I refused and after the frustration of saying this is not my fault they gave me bottled water. We missed the first port. No one acknowledged our inconvience. We were told if we didn't report many others potentially could be infected. Not A"Thank you for reporting this, we understand the inconvenience this has caused." Flowers would have been nice to make the room more cheery or they could have waived the cover charge for a premium restaurant for one meal for my husband and me. Nothing! Illness happens. I understand that poor treatment is not understandable. I've taken 10+ cruises and have never been ill or treated so poorly. This was my first and last on Princess because of the passenger service.

LBloom Dec 28th, 2011 06:40 AM

Sher, so sorry to hear about your experience. Yes, the passenger service was poor. In your case, as you actually suffered from NV, I would think you should get a refund or something tangible in return for your experience. We spoke to many passengers who said this would be their last trip on Princess as a result of the customer service. The virus is a risk, but their poor response is what I and others object to. Thankfully, you are feeling better.

jacketwatch Dec 28th, 2011 01:06 PM

Well if its any consolation don't take Celebrity either. Their response was similar though honestly I did not expect any special treatment. NV is a risk and i don't see it as the fault of the cruise line. They did all they could to prevent it as did the Princess crew apparently with all the extra cleaning and food handling precautions. Did you ever think of the burden this put on them?

Another example is this. We were to port in Ashdod for two days but could not b/c the port closed due to rocket attacks from Gaza. Thus we had to port in Haifa instead for those two days. As we booked private tours and as gas is about $10.00 per gal. in Israel and as out two days for the Ashdod area tours (Jrusalem, the Dead Sea and Masada)now had to commence from way up north in Haifa we had to pay for the extra gas charges which for two days came to about $500.00. Was it the fault of the tour guide? No. Was it my fault? No. Since I can't bill the Palestinains in Gaza I had to pay. Too bad but sometimes things happen and you just deal with it ansd move on. Somedays you're the lawnmower, sometimes you're the grass.

My only complaints were inre to a special food request we had which Celebrity really botched. I wrote a letter about both thegood and the bad. They replied and I got a future cruise credit. This they could have contriolled and did not. Can't say the same for the NV.

Bottom line. vacations should be fun but if you travel enough sooner or later things happen which you don't want to happen. Just like life.

dogster Dec 29th, 2011 02:16 AM

Great response, jacket. My eyes are still rolling from these amazing posts. Unfortunately, the rules of Fodors mean that I can't say what I think. So I hope there's more to come on this great topic. It's like a glimpse into another world.

Tennisjnky Dec 29th, 2011 03:22 AM

We were on the same 12/17 Crown Princess cruise with the norovirus outbreak. I, too, was disturbed that Princess made no attempt to notify us about the delayed boarding, or the previous week's norovirus outbreak prior to the trip. Princess requires tons of contact information on each passenger, so they could have easily notified us, if they had tried.

jacketwatch Dec 29th, 2011 06:38 AM

I wonder when first of all they found out about the delay in boarding. Secondly if you were informed before hand about the NV on the previous cruise and you had cancelled do you think you would get a refund on short notice as this? If you read the contract you would not be entitled to anything at this point. So what would you have done? If you had private insurance which had, and not all have, a cancel for any reason clause then OK. IME this costs more and must be purchased well ahead of time. You might want to think about this if there is a next time. Cheers. Larry :-)

LBloom Dec 29th, 2011 06:57 AM

Larry/Jacket, you fail to see the point. The cruise ship's passenger service REACTION is what I blame. Glad they took lots of precaustions, especially glad we didn't become sick. But their lack of concern about passenger's comforts or notifying people when they knew in advance 3 days prior. The issue is THEY LIED! They claimed to have out a mysterious email which amazingly not one of the many 3,400 passengers received.

Stuff does happen and I have provided Princess with feedback. I can't fault them for the virus or the lousy weather or the ship roiling in gale force winds and 20 feet waves. BUT, I can take them to task for their reaction.

connie9080 Dec 29th, 2011 07:01 AM

We too were on the Dec 17-24 Crown Princess cruise. Fortunately no one in our party of 8 had NV. However, there were "hit squads" all over the boat with biohazard bags, people vomiting in elevators/nightclubs and barf bags available everywhere. The staff attitude was good, esp with the consideration of all the extra work they had to do. The cruise environment was just "not there", as buffets were crowded with diners and staff serving butter, pepper, rolls, etc. We had traditional dinner seating and our waiter worked hard to make this a good experience. By the end of the cruise, two of us were suffering daily asthma attacks because of the excessive use of chemicals everywhere.

I will not sail with Princess again soon. We ordered bathrobes in advance and finally received them after 3 days and 3 inquiries. Fruit, ordered three times, was only delivered to the room once after two inquiries. At no time during the embarkation wait (ours was 4 1/2 hours) did staff visit with guests or make lucid announcements via PA system. Some people received sheets of paper explaining the delay, we did not. We did not get an email in advance of sailing to explain the changes to the embarkation process. Princess could have provided some food/entertainment while their passengers waited.

I just feel the treatment of passengers was shoddy, not by the staff on board as much as the cruise line itself. If this is the treatment I can expect on Princess, I will sail with a different line.

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