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Patricia Gipson January 23rd, 2005 12:40 PM

Stomach illness on Mariner
I read this morning about a stomach illness on the Mariner:

As fate would have it, I am booked on this exact ship and itinerary in March. What are your recommendations for dealing with the cruise lines if any of my family gets this? I am in health care, and will be bringing an arsenal of prescription medications for anything that might come up (pardon the pun), so I am not worried about the "health" end. My concern is spending $12,000 to perhaps spend a week deciding whether to sit or stand over a toilet, and then getting only a hardy slap on the back from the cruise lines on the way out.

Are there insurance policies to cover this specific concern? Do the cruise lines do anything for these passengers?

Thanks in advance!

Kuki January 23rd, 2005 01:49 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
There's no unsurance that I know of which would cover any type of refund if you did get a Noro Virus on a ship.
And it's nothing that the cruise lines are doing to cause you to get ill. In fact they do whatever they possibly can to prevent it.

Since the beginning of the year one of the hospitals in our area has had over a dozen outbreaks of Noro Virus. The fact is you can get it anywhere, from other people. The key is washing your hands OFTEN.

If you want to be guranteed that you are not going to pick it on a ship, I'm afraid the only answer is not to go.

gb52877 January 23rd, 2005 04:59 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
My 25 year old daughter picked up the virus on the Monarch. She was quarantined in our cabin for 3 days. My girlfriend and I had to stay in for 24 hours because we roomed with her. RCCL offered to let us off the ship in Grand Cayman and fly us home after she went to the hospital. They said she would have to get a doctor to release her before she could fly. They would have paid for the flight. Who would pay for the hospital? I am not sure. We decided to stay on the ship and we were given 75% off of another cruise.
Even our friends in the next cabin got the 75% coupon. Why? I do not know. I believe we talked to a customer relations manager on the ship. The crew on the Monarch were wonderful to us. They did everything to help us out and make the best of a bad situation.

Also, they did not charge us for a clinic visit or medications. We ended up going down to see the doctor a second time and they gave her additional shot of medication. Normally it does not last more than a day but with her it lasted longer.

I would recommend washing your hands like crazy and not to touch hand rails or etc. Use only your restroom and not public ones. These are items what the doctor told us to do to avoid the virus in the future. My daughter was in a cabin with my girlfriend and I. Three friends were next door to us and she was the only one who caught the virus.

backheidi January 24th, 2005 02:56 PM

Re: Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
I am just back from the Mariner and it was a disaster for many. We had a group of 15 and 8 of them were sick, quarantined, and/or not allowed to go on the island of Grand Cayman (even if you were not sick but were in a room with a quarantined person you could not go on the island). By the time the rest of us were allowed on the island, most of us lost part or all of our excursions. We were supposed to do the Reef and Rays excursion but were only allowed to do a very rushed and disorganized Rays excursion. This was very disheartening as we had already missed Labadee because of rough weather. So many people were sick (including crew members) that the big production show (Dancing through the ages?) was cancelled because the performers were ill. Also, the illness is really are really, really SICK (intense vomiting, etc.). My brother will never ever cruise again (he called it the cruise from Hell) which I feel bad about because he was a FIRST timer. Anyway, I will give more details later, but it was a real bummer for us (especially since it was a group of us coming together from four states) and we were so looking forward to it.

gb52877 January 24th, 2005 04:23 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
backheidi - I am sorry to hear about your cruise. I understand how you feel my daughter calls her illness cruise a cruise from Hell also. My daughter cruised again last January on the Navigator and had a wonderful time. Maybe you can convince your brother to give it a try again. We cruised twice last year with no illnesses. I also hope RCCL is compensating you, I hope they did not give this up because of the number of illnesses.

sal7202 January 24th, 2005 06:12 PM

Re: Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Strange, but on the TV news here they said that the affected ship was the Enchantment of the Seas. Why am I not surprised that the TV got it wrong?

cnmiranda January 24th, 2005 07:05 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Sorry for the bad experience Backheidi. Please post back if you received any sort of compensation from RCCL. I'm not sure what compensation is deserved but it would be nice to know how RCCL handles the situation.

Post Edited (01-24-05 21:07)

hcat January 24th, 2005 08:06 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
A few weeks ago it was Enchantment & they said it was spread by someone who boarded with symptoms--ques why did they let him board if they knew it ahead? Also a med ques. How does handwashing help if you are infected as the result of a food or beverage handler who is sick or even a cabin attendant who touches your pillows? I do wash hands alot & use the antibacterial gel but just wondererd about food servers? Hope it doesn't spread to other ships--

Ron January 24th, 2005 08:28 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Here we go again with the compensation thing. I got sick for a couple of days and the cruise line owes me.
Just how do we know how the " virus" got aboard to begin with?
Maybe the cruise lines should trace the virus to the offending passenger / passengers and ask to be compensated ??

I have an upset stomach. I am achy. I feel weak. I went to the dr. saturday ( a walk in clinic ) and there were at least 30 people in there. No, we weren't on a cruise and are a long way from the ocean. Who do we look to for " compensation "-- Walmart ??
I am sick and obviously someone has to compensate me.

Maybe I got the virus at school picking up my grandson every day-- no, maybe at the post office-- no-- maybe at Kroger -- no, maybe at the Italian restaurant-- no--- maybe my wife got it at the mall, or maybe I got it at the mall.
Bottom line, I haven't a clue where I got it. I live in a world full of germs, sick people, well people etc. etc. I know things happen. I am not looking to be compensated at every turn in life. I'm off on a 10 day cruise in about three weeks. I'm just happy I got the virus now instead of three weeks from now. But wait--- maybe if I had gotten sick three weeks from now on my cruise, I could have gotten " compensated " !

Ok, feel free to shoot, flame, tout, boo and hiss if you want. I can take it.

cnmiranda January 24th, 2005 09:16 PM

Re: Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Ron, I hope that comment wasn't directed towards what I said. My husband is in a profession where outrageous lawsuits are common and no one hates an ambulance chaser more than we do. We were victims ourselves of a frivolous lawsuit (which we won by the way thank heavens) .

From what I have read those that are sick are often placed on a very strict diet that limits their food intake (i.e. they live off of soup for several days). Now they are paying for meals they don't get to enjoy. I was just wondering how cruise lines handle the situation.

Sis January 24th, 2005 09:58 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Confused here.......are you all saying that if we go on a cruise we can get this stomach virus opposed to going to a resort.........and if so what is the difference. I'm serious....if crusing is that..then I would opt for a resort... So my question is, why do people get sick on a cruise more then going to a resort.....all experties....needed here. before I make my final decision as to how to travel.

Thank you.

cnmiranda January 25th, 2005 12:37 AM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Sis, people get sick because of the confined space and they are all touching the same things. Millions of people cruise yearly, you only hear about the "sick ships" on the news. We used to hotel it only, but having cruised 7 times in the past 2 1/2 years we are hooked, as I'm sure you will be too :-)

cruzin4fun January 25th, 2005 06:55 AM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner really can get just as sick at a resort, all-inclusive or not, just as easy as you can get sick on a ship. Thankfully I have never gotten sick on a ship. I've been on 31 cruises. I'm going on another one next week. Like others, I'm very hopeful I will not get sick. I do believe that you MUST keep your hands as clean as possible. It is so easy to take a moment and go wash your hands thoroughly. I also carry a small bottle of Purell hand sanitizer with me at almost all times. If I were you, I would go ahead and cruise. It is such a wonderful way to vacation. Sure, maybe there were 150-250 people who were sick, but what about the other 3000-3200 who didn't get sick on the ship? While the problem is real, I feel that it is often not put into perspective. Hope you decide to cruise!

gb52877 January 25th, 2005 08:16 AM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Ron if two hundred or more people are sick on a ship chances are 90% of them got it on the ship. I'm sure a passenger probably brought it on to the ship from shore originally.

FYI - Norwalk is not just a little stomach ache, you are violently ill. My daughter spent all but one day in our cabin. She unlike others listened to the doctor so she would not spread the disease to others.

As for compensation I did not ask for anything, RCCL offered it up to my daughter and myself so I did not turn it down. I'm not sure why they gave compensation to all of us who were traveling in our party because the illness did not spoil the others trip. Our friends who were in another cabin were not even quarantined. No one asked for compensation RCCL was just very generous!

backheidi January 25th, 2005 08:27 AM

Re: Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
You are right. What I was most surprised by was how violently ill those in our group became and how quickly. My brother was standing there one minute and running for his room the next and my sister in law said from that time on he looked like total death, extremely pale and weak. I am sad because I too have been on cruises before and there was no illness but he was a first timer who will never ever go on a ship again. Also, the numbers I keep hearing are 200+ but I believe there were many, many more as there were crew members ill as well as performers (there was never a big production show because the performers were ill, instead we had comedians and four of the singers over several nights...that too was a bummer because I love big production shows). By the end of the cruise you could not even find a cracker on board because that was one of the few things that the sick people were allowed to eat.

MCurrie January 25th, 2005 01:29 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Bummer for us!
We just book Mariner of the Sea for the first week in April.
Last year we went on Costa Mediterrea and heard the awful stories from TomF prior to that trip and now Mariner for this year........
I'm hoping this outbreak is over by the time Spring Break rolls around!

alison1170 January 25th, 2005 02:52 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
We were on Mariner over New Years with no problems at all (that I knew of at least). One thing they did at Windjammer was to set up sanitation stations. There were a whopping 2 electronic dispensers that you put your hands under and a little bit of sanitizer came out. The first day, they were making everyone use it before entering. As each day passed, they got more and more lax about it, and by the end of the trip, the stations werent even out. I didnt notice people cleaning like I have on past cruises either. You might want to bring along your own Purell to use right before eating since everyone touches the serving utensils. Of course if the virus is in the food, theres not much you can do about it other than be sure its hot before eating. Just remember, there are over 2000 people on board in confined spaces. Everything you touched has been touched by a lot of others. Washing your hands is the best prevention!


alison1170 January 25th, 2005 02:53 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
We were on Mariner over New Years with no problems at all (that I knew of at least). One thing they did at Windjammer was to set up sanitation stations. There were a whopping 2 electronic dispensers that you put your hands under and a little bit of sanitizer came out. The first day, they were making everyone use it before entering. As each day passed, they got more and more lax about it, and by the end of the trip, the stations werent even out. I didnt notice people cleaning like I have on past cruises either. You might want to bring along your own Purell to use right before eating since everyone touches the serving utensils. Of course if the virus is in the food, theres not much you can do about it other than be sure its hot before eating. Just remember, there are over 2000 people on board in confined spaces. Everything you touched has been touched by a lot of others. Washing your hands is the best prevention!


Patricia Gipson January 25th, 2005 03:05 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Seems like I started a hot topic. Let me explain my perspective on this. I am a professional healthcare provider, so I have a bit of knowledge about germ transmission. Yes, norovirus can be found many places, and is definitely seen in ERs and clinics, but if you track these sorts of things, as does heath departments and CDC, it is not likely that you will find a large percentage of the population that has been affected at one time.

The concern I have is two-fold. First, when a large percentage of a population is affected by one particular organism, it is considered and "outbreak" (per CDC), and it seems as though this is exactly what occurs on these cruise ships. 10-20% of the ship's population is a huge percentage. (CDC's website specifically reviews this cruiseship virus.)

Second, the cruise ships know very well that this is occurring, thus they do have some responsibility for preventing it. (Consider all of the safety measures they already have in place - muster drills, tall railing, etc.)

Clearly, hand washing on the part of the passengers is essential, but what else are we expected to do?

Does the cruise line announce when an outbreak occurs so that the passengers take additional measures? Do the cruise ships do a "terminal clean" on the ship after the outbreak? Do they bring on extra staff to help with additional cleaning? What about more help during the cruise when the staff are ill? Have they been assessed for mode of transmission? Do they increase their food budget so that trully fresh food is put out for every meal - or is it recycled meal after meal? Specifically, how is the virus being transmitted from one stranger to another?

The norovirus is not like a bad storm, political unrest at a port-of call or general sea-sickness. These are not things that the cruise lines have any control over. The transmission of a known present virus may be.

saabgal January 25th, 2005 07:05 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Regarding the transmission of the virus,

Has anyone mentioned the serving utensils in the buffet lines? Everyone and their brother has touched that utensil before you, and who really knows about the hygeine of those people! Mom always said, wash your hands before dinner....

Ron January 25th, 2005 07:41 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
I am not a health care professional and don't claim to be but I do have a little common sense. A cruise ship, regardless of how large it's touted to be, is still a small enclosed
floating thing that has from 2000 to 3000 passengers, all according to the particular ship. These ships run regular routes, week in and week out. When your cruise is up, the way is cleared for the next group, ( who, by the way, are basically chomping at the bits to get aboard before the ship can be unloaded ). Passengers come from all over the country and indeed, all over the world in a matter of a few hours and converge upon the same space. The cruise lines do provide sanitary facilities, both ashore and afloat.
With all these people converging upon the same small area, it's fairly simple to understand that if a few of them have something such as colds, flu, Noro, etc., it's very likely to be transmitted to some of the other passengers. The means of transmission is also pretty simple. All you have to do is watch people, at the store, shopping, home, onboard, wherever. People sneeze, cough,etc.and many times cover their face with their bare hand. Some will use the bathroom and not bother to wash. There are countless ways of transmitting a virus. With 2-3000 people in a confined space, someone is going to pick it up. The crew is not immune. They get it too. Because a few crew members get sick, is this a sign that the cruise line is doing something wrong?
Exactly how can the cruise lines keep people from coming aboard with these viruses?
Exactly how can they keep people from getting it once aboard?

Take two people going on a cruise. Normally the last day or two people will run errands, go to the store for last minute items, etc. Just how many other people has those two people been around and in contact with 48 hours before even getting to the airport and on a plane?---- probably hundreds. Then once on a plane, they are again, in a small confined space with many other people, some of whom may be carrying something contagious. Then the would be cruisers usually has to change planes somewhere, again being around hundreds of other people, getting on another plane etc, etc. finally getting to the terminal, riding a cab or bus to the pier, then onto the ship.Unfortunately, for the other passengers, crew and cruise line, the people carrying a virus or ailment do not have blinking lights announcing that they are contagious.
After a couple or few days it starts to show up.Exactly what could the cruise lines have done--- stop everyone from boarding until they were all given physicals at the pier, blood tests, what ?
I don't want to see anyone have a cruise or any vacation ruined because of a sickness or accident. I have been unfortunate enough on two cruises to have gotten sick. Once on Princess and once on Carnival, both times on cruises out of San Juan. Did I get something aboard the ships--- who knows-- I don't know. Did I catch something on one of the Islands, who knows-- I don't know. It wasn't pleasant. One illness caused me to miss 4 days work after returning home on a sunday. So I do understand being sick.
I just don't think the cruise lines should be blamed for something that to a large extent is beyond their control and should be expected to ( can't help this ) " cough " up some form of " compensation " for someones ills unless the cruise lines is indeed at fault.

Pretty simple in the long run--- if you choose to venture out in the world, there are some risks that have to be incurred by the traveler. Those who don't understand that nothing is perfect and can't take the risks should, with all due respect, stay safe at home.

When one of our local schools shuts down this winter with the " flu like symptons " I think it very doubtful that CNN or any other major news outlet will make a big deal over it.
But heaven help the cruise ship with a compliment of 4300 passengers and crew that has a couple hundred people complaining of being sick.

Sis January 25th, 2005 09:55 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Why don't they hand the utensils (sp) never touched by us passengers....and have the staff serve you instead of self serve. you (with gloves)....for the buffet. Might help a bit...NO?

sharon_psu January 25th, 2005 10:32 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
On our last cruise was back in October on Voyager. Whenever we ate at the Windjammer a crew member, who wore gloves, personally handed us our tray and utensils, which were wrapped in our napkin.

However, on our July cruise on Empress the crew did not hand us our tray/utensils BUT they were individually wrapped in napkins.

backheidi January 26th, 2005 08:14 AM

Re: Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
I can only speak for Mariner but I only saw sanitizer machines at the windjammer (and then at the 24 hour cafe toward the end of the cruise) and I do know that once the virus hit they had to stop several people to make them use the sanitizer (in fact they had a crew there watching and told those who passed it that they could not enter unless they did use it). Our utensils were not handed to us but they were wrapped in cloth napkins. I did also notice at the end of the cruise crew wiping down the walls of the elevator. As for extra crew, I do not think there were any extra brought in but I did hear that so many were sick that they had to bring in extra doctors (I even heard that our Captain and Cruise Director were ill which may be true because on the last night at the Good-bye show they both said "hello, we are back"). Believe me, I felt for the crew/staff as well because no doubt it was the cruise from hell for them as well. I do also agree with much of what Ron says about how the virus gets there and I do think that RC probably did the best they could in a bad situation. As for questions of compensation, I believe those in our group were given credit toward another cruise for the days that they were sick or confined (but since most were 1st timers they will never ever cruise again) and that I am sad about as I organized this cruise and I have been on two other cruises where there was no illness nor did we miss ports like this one (but if this happened to me my 1st may have been my last as well). If I ever get our group together again it will definitely be a land vacation and I will let someone ELSE do the planning.

Durwin January 26th, 2005 12:01 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
My response, per the comments and recommendations above (which I sincerely appreicate) is that we know, plan ahead before you leave. Take the necessary precautions as recommended above, i.e. hand sanitizer, etc. All we can do is be prepared as best we can. RCCL is an excellent cruiseline and, fortunately, I have not had a bad experience. However, now that I know what may possibly happen I have no intention of cancelling my upcoming cruise and am prepared to stand or sit (excuse the language) in my lavatory in my cabin for a day if I have to.


Kings January 26th, 2005 03:26 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
My family of 4 was also on the Mariner of the Seas during the 1/16 sailing and were directly impacted by this virus. My husband came down with the virus and was quarantined to his room for 72 hours. My younger son also had the virus, visited the doctor, and we assumed he was under the quarantine as well. We later found out this wasn't true and he had never been placed on the sick list. My older son and I were never sick and were quarantined for 24 hours. RCI compensated us with the number of days of quarantine. Given that - we are furious. The staff on board (including doctors, nurses and guest relations) provided incorrect or missing information, were completely unprepared to deal with the outbreak and we were treated very poorly. My husband is a fanatic about washing hands so that has a limited protection! I also believe they absolutely lied about the numbers affected (they didn't put my son on the sick list even though we took him to the doctor) and were absolutely ridiculous in their statements that they had isolated it to one passenger (We spoke to our assistant waiter and the stateroom steward in the rooms down the hall from our stateroom who told us they had been sick with the illness the week before.) The issue was not the virus or the quarantine but ruining a long planned family vacation with extremely poor treatment by the staff during and after the cruise, as well as missing the ports of call and excursions we had looked forward to for over a year. This illness is food borne, so unfortunately if it starts on a cruise avoiding it is next to impossible. Given all of that I personally spoke to a number of passengers who got sick later in the week, but had heard of the quarantine so never reported it - so much for the process.

We have submitted a letter of complaint through our travel agent (after the RCI customer service in Miami was rude and unaccomadating) and would be very interested to hear if any other impacted customers have any luck. You know this must have been bad customer service when it made the national morning news on Good Morning America! (P.S. this was my 6th cruise, but first with RCI and at this point I wouldn't recommend them due to the customer service issues).

gb52877 January 26th, 2005 06:48 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Kings, if you ask any doctor this illness is not food borne. I believe you are mistaken about that. My daughter had it on the Monarch two years ago. She like your husband is a fanatic about washing her hands and not touching things. If your son saw a doctor on the ship they have to report it. If he was not on the list it must have been an error. Frankly I thought RCCL was generous in giving us compensation for the number of days she was sick. I'm sorry to hear that you were treated poorly. The staff of the Monarch could not have been any nicer to us. They were just wonderful. This is not a unknown disease or a strange disease just associated with cruise ships. It is found everywhere ask any doctor. It is just reported on the news when a ship has a group sick. They had to close a school in Michigan earlier this year because of the disease and it did not make the news.

Ron January 26th, 2005 09:22 PM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
How many types of viral illnesses are almost identical to the " Noro " and most all these viral illnesses are spread by human contact . Yes, sometimes it can be spread by food if the contagious person handled food that was then consumed by someone else.
Washing hands certainly helps but isn't a guarantee you will not get sick. Think how many times a day the average person touches something that was touched by someone else, that was handled by how many others. One of the dirtiest things in a restaurant is ---- the menu. How many hands in a week touch that dinner menu they hand you when you sit down and how many times was that menu cleaned--- 99 % chance it has never been cleaned. What about salt and pepper shakers? Think about it.

I carry a small bottle of Purell hand cleaner and wherever we go, before any food is touched, after we handle the menu, salt-pepper, etc, we wash thoroughly.Doesn't always work as I'm just now getting over what ever I have had for the past few days.
I guess I could call it the Norwalk as I have had tummy problems, headache, feeling achy, etc. I got my cruise docs for my upcoming 10 day cruise a week and half ago so I guess I'll have to blame Princess for sending me infected Docs.---- Hello, attorney???

Post Edited (01-26-05 21:24)

backheidi January 27th, 2005 07:00 AM

Re: Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
I think you people need to give Kings a little break here. Much of the 1/16 cruise was very disappointing, not just the many people that were ill but also missed and late to ports, cancelled and shortened excursions, and no big stage shows. As for compensation and lawyers, none here as credit for another cruise is the last thing any of our group is interested in. Again, I think RC probably did the best they could in a really bad situation but regardless when you plan so well and are so looking forward to a vacation (ours was a reunion of families from several states), it is truley a bummer. Also, some of my family complained that they were not treated the best and my brother vomited so bad that he actually pulled a muscle....definitely not a good cruise.

Sis January 27th, 2005 07:33 AM

Re: Stomach illness on Mariner
Qustion, if you see the dr. on the ship.....say you don't feel well do they make you stay in your cabin?

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