RE: Sea Princess: I wish I had seen this before I took my daughter and grandson on this cruise on Monday May 30, 2011!!!!!! The norovirus was rampant!!!! My daughter got a mild case, I got a very severe case ending up with me being hospitalized on board and then presented with a bill for just under $2000.00!!! (which I am disputing). We were not informed of the virus until we sailed, never sent notification prior to sail date or offered the chance to postphone or cancel the trip even though they were aware of how serious the spread was. Had I known about the virus I NEVER would have exposed my family to such and environment. I planned this trip 7 months before, it was to mark a very special birthday. Our trip was ruined, ports missed due to this illness. There were numerous cases on board. I would ditto everything stated about the poor quality of food and service and lack of cleaniness on this ship. I had cruised Princess before and enjoyed it, I have also cruised Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Carnival and Azamara. This had to be the worse cruise I have ever taken. The hospital staff were very nice but the policy of charging someone for treatment to correct the situation that occurred after you infected them, ruined their long planned vacation and generally left them feeling weak and very disapointed in the lack of prior notification, needs to be addressed. I spoke to many passengers, some long time Princess cruisers, who stated that after this experience, it would be their last Princess cruise.
I understand the chain of thought of catching viruses from Walmart, planes etc. The difference here was that Sea Princess had advanced knowledge of the situation and chose not to notify upcoming passengers. I feel that they had a moral obligation to do at least that, so that passengers could make an informed decision as to whether to postphone,cancel or continue as planned. Would you like to spend half of your trip sick in bed, missing events, ports, etc. I was on another cruise that had norovirus come up a few days into the cruise, they encouraged everyone to visit the doctor assuring them that there would be no charge and they used superior sanitation methods. The outbreak was quickly under control.
The CDC says that, among the 232 outbreaks of norovirus illness reported to CDC from July 1997 to June 2000, 57% were foodborne, 16% were due to person-to-person spread, and 3% were waterborne. In 23% of outbreaks, the cause of transmission was not determined. Among these outbreaks, common settings included restaurants and catered meals (36%), nursing homes (23%), schools (13%), and vacation settings or cruise ships (10%).
I note with some amusement how many folks repeat this statement or something like it to make excuses for cruise lines. Do you, or have you frequented such places? I have. Have you gotten NoroVirus from those places? Probably not. Why not?
Cruise lines well know that their ships can be breeding grounds for this aliment. Even a very small amount of the virus can cause infection. It survives prolonged periods on such surfaces as counters and door handles, and it can even become airborne under some circumstances. Some common disinfectants, such as alcohol-based waterless hand scrubs won't kill it.
If a ship does not do a thorough cleaning after an outbreak...literally scrubbing every surface which may be touched by food, passengers or crew with appropriate disinfectants, the virus will keep on thriving from cruise to cruise. Cruise lines know this, but appear to want to ignore the implications.
Everyone says that scrupulous hand-washing is key to NoroVirus prevention. Well, it certainly helps. But, as one of those who is very aware of this problem, and who comes into physical contact with many "strangers" on a daily basis, I have adopted some fairly stringent hand-washing protocols for myself and my wife. Nevertheless, we were infected on the May 20th, 2011 sailing of Sea Princess to Alaska.
On Sea Princess, I saw food recycled. And I don't just mean left-overs, of which there were many in the buffet. In the dining room, uneaten bread was transferred from one basket to another, without a care or concern that the passengers departing that table likely fingered the rolls. Tables were "wiped down" yes, but with a lick-and-a-promise. They might as well have licked the tables, for all the good it did.
So, "you pays your money and you takes your chance". Cruising is great if you don't get sick. We went on many, many cruises before this one and never got sick. So I believe you still have a good chance to maintain health on a cruise. Unless the virus has already snuck aboard. If it has, it will remain there indefinitely; unless a very thorough cleaning is undertaken. Sea Princess' recent delayed sailing to Alaska was apparently an attempt to do that, but how much could really be done in the few hours allotted? Not enough apparently, as NoroVirus was present on that cruise as well.
I just returned from the May 30th/June 9th Sea Princess cruise to Alaska from San francisco. It was not a good cruise, (in fact I have cruised many times and this ranks as the worst). I see several comments on the responsibility of the cruise line when one of it's ships comes down with the norovirus. We all know that it really comes down to the almighty dollar but I do think that when management has advanced knowledge of a contagious health threatening condition aboard, they have a responsibility to notify pending passengers so that these people can make an informed decision on whether they wish to expose themselves and their families or be given a chance to re-book. You just don't try to sweep it under the rug until after the vessel has sailed. While this might cause a loss of some immediate profit, what does management think passengers that were put in such situation are going to tell their friends, co-workers etc. After my experience on this ship, I have doubts that I will ever sail Princess again. I was very sick despite all the precautions and heavy hand washing I did. I missed ports, I missed shows, I missed meals, yet all of this was prepaid for. I received a large medical bill for treatment of this virus. Surely the bad PR that tends to remain for a very long time after such an incident, would eventually outweigh the initial financial loss of letting passengers rebook.
OOOPS, somehow people missed the quotation I was responding to. I was not talking about complaining about norovirus, I was talking about complaining about PRECAUTIONS against noro.
The previous message advocated strict precautionary measures, including no self service in the buffet and other things that are an inconvenience. And I noted, "And Oh boy will the passengers complain!" This is based on our personal experience on cruises where those precautions have been in effect. I have sat at a table in the buffet with a woman who complained loud and long that those little paper packets of salt were no good and she insisted on salt shakers on the table. She insulted the crew member who tried to explain to her that it was a sanitary precaution.
Many passengers complain, aboard the ship and on the boards, when they are not allowed to serve themselves at the buffet. Many complain that the hand sanitizer dries their hands. Many complain at not being able to refill their water bottles in the buffet. Any slight inconvenience, even though it is a medical precaution, meets with loud protests from quite a group of passengers.
So the cruise ships are caught in the middle, between passengers demanding more precautions and those who demand more freedom.
On our last HAL cruise, extra precautions were in effect the first two days of the cruise, every cruise. HAL says they have reduced noro by 60% by doing this. However, the assignment of extra servers to the buffet had a noticeable effect on dining rooms service and resulted in unhappy pax in the dining room.
RE: Sea Princess: I wish I had seen this before I took my daughter and grandson on this cruise on Monday May 30, 2011!!!!!! The norovirus was rampant!!!! My daughter got a mild case, I got a very severe case ending up with me being hospitalized on board and then presented with a bill for just under $2000.00!!! (which I am disputing). We were not informed of the virus until we sailed, never sent notification prior to sail date or offered the chance to postphone or cancel the trip even though they were aware of how serious the spread was.
First of all... I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but my mother-in-law had a heart attack in Ketchikan and missed half of the cruise, so we've got you trumped! Sorry also to those who had to wait while we were taken on our own "private" tender into shore. She continues to improve.
We would have had a large medical assistance bill, too - but we always purchase trip insurance, and that $100 or so saved us tens of thousands. How anyone can book a trip months in advance and believe they know what's going to pop up before or during? I don't mean to sound unkind, kaylakitty, but that's just penny wise and pound foolish, I think. Live and learn. The truth is you may have picked up that virus between your home and Pier 35, too.
When boarding there WERE clearly printed notices saying that there was a small outbreak on the previous cruise [128, or 6.23% of passengers, per the CDC], but to notify everyone in advance would have been a logistical nightmare - I don't fault them for that. BTW, the CDC says there were 144 or 6.7% ill on our cruise. While SMS and texts or emails could have been sent as a cautionary alert, many folks still do not use that - such as some seniors. As I understand it, if the total number of passenger cases reaches 10% the ship is called in.
Others here are correct - Norovirus is carried in vomit and feces, and if you noted the staff stationed outside the rest rooms it was because of the alarming number of people who DON'T wash afterwards. How did they know? There were mirrors that showed the sinks from the entryway.
Our first morning we saw FIVE people actively vomiting into their little white bags while sitting at their tables in the buffet at breakfast. Why wouldn't you stay in your cabins, for crying out loud? The HazMat teams came and disinfected the area, putting yellow hazard tape around the chairs to close the table off.
I also saw countless times where a passenger would argue with a staff member who was insisting they sanitize their hands before re-entering the buffet food area; some just ignoring the staff completely. I also witnessed passengers picking up food with their bare hands and putting it back. Unsupervised or otherwise out of control children are another matter altogether, and there were a LOT of families with kids.
No cruise line can compete with (or be faulted for) that many pig-headed people. Keep that in mind the next time you're at ANY buffet, church BBQ or some such gathering.
Princess isn't completely without fault, though. We were told that while there HAD been some cases on the previous cruise the ship had been thoroughly disinfected prior to our boarding. I asked my steward if that was true, and he said "not possible". However, after the CDC came aboard Princess was told it WOULD be done before the next group of passengers boarded on the 9th - hence the delay in boarding.
So let's summarize, shall we?
1) Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and rinse well. Do this more often than you think you need to.
2) Use hand santitizer as often as you see it
3) Don't touch your face/mouth/eyes
4) Don't use public toilets unless you really have to, and
5) Hope the food preparation and service staff all do the same.
Would I cruise on Princess again? Well, probably - although I'm more fond of other lines - but I also disinfect grocery cart handles, too. You have to use the common sense many others are reluctant (or incapable) of using.