I'm always somewhat amused when I read the stories about 200 people on a cruise getting sick with "flu-like symptons". When you put 3,000 people in a common space for a week, there's going to be a chance that viruses are spread around. It has nothing to do with the ship!
Add to the equation that there are a lot of elder folks with compromised immune systems on cruises, and it doesn't take someone from the CDC to figure out what's going on.
Every ship I've ever been on has been as clean as any other public space I've been in -- from churches to hotels.
Old folks don't wash their hands! Last year on the Millennium, it was absolutely amazing to see how many old dudes used the toilet (standing AND sitting) in the public restrooms only to exit back to the dining room, casino or showroom without so much as a cold-water rinse. Maybe just a disgusting generational habit. But after witnessing this, I no longer hold the cruise lines to blame for outbreaks of "flu-like symptoms". The unclean outnumbered us hand washers by 4 to 1.
Scrub up, you old folks. And stop cutting in line by pretending to be suffering from dementhia.
You see - If they were last in line, they wouldn't contaminate anyone but themselves. But since they come straight out of the restroom and cut the line to grab the first serving spoon, they contaminate everyone. So you see "Old people cut lines" results in Contamination! And its true, they never wash their hands.
its not just the older folks,lots of people do not wash their hands after using the bathrooms. Some cruise lines have installed hand sanitizer stations at the entrance to the buffet. On our last Princess cruise, you were handed your plate and silverware by a gloved attendand and he/she would not give you your plate until you use the hand sanitizer.
The problem of handwashing is multi-national and spreads accross the generations. The CDC and British National health have both done surveys and each have found that around 1/3 of people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom.
The surveys didn't go into specific age ranges.
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I don't think handwashing has to do with old people--my grandmother never does anything without washing her hands. It is in regards to everybody... now me, I'm mildly germophobic (inherited from my mom) so I carry hand sanitizer everywhere. :-)
As for rude old people, not all of them are. And young people are just as prone to rudeness as anyone else.
I think it's great that a gloved attendant will not hand you a plate until you use the sanitizer. But if people continue to test the food and get their fingers in their mouths THEN grab the serving spoon with those same fingers the germs will continue to spread.
I don't know what chemicals they put in those sanitizer machines, but it dries out my hands and makes them itch. On my last couple of cruises they had them and I tried to explain to the attendant that I was allergic to the solution, but they didn't understand english enough. I had to become an expert at faking the machine. It takes about 3 to 4 seconds for the electronic eye to sense your hands underneath, so if you pull your hands away a split second faster it never squirts, and neither the attendant or those behind you in line are any the wiser.
From everything I have read, hand sanitizers do nothing to stop the spread of noro-virus. Only thorough handwashing is effective against this type of virus. These sanitizers were put at the buffet line as a reaction to the media hype about norovirus, which makes them nothing more than a "feel good" measure since they are completely ineffective against that disease. They do help prevent the spread of some other types of viruses, however, so does thorough handwashing, which I do frequently for the benefit of others at the buffet.
To allow one type of goop to be squirted on my hands and then have to put another type of goop on my hands to combat the dryness just so others can "feel good" about my cleanliness makes no sense to me. I rather just go to the restroom and wash my hands so that they will truly be clean.
Actually, the hand sanitizers, if used properly, are just as good if not better then handwashing in most cases. I am not talking about hands that are visibly dirty or greasy. People would be surprised just how clean their hands are when they handwash. When getting my CNA, handwashing of course was a big thing, we used a type of dye that showed us just how clean, or not, our hands were after handwashing.
Actually, hand sanitizers are NOT as effective as proper handwashing and their effectiveness on noroviruses (the most common concern on cruiseships) is debatable (I have seen conflicting reports about whether they help prevent norovirus, whereas soap and water is definitely effective against this disease). There is alot of confusion regarding the efficacy of hand sanitizers vs. handwashing because of a CDC report issued in 2002 stating that hand sanitizers were a good substitute for handwashing in healthcare settings. However, the CDC recommendation ONLY applies to healthcare settings.
The report found at the link below by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at the University of Florida explains why the CDC recommendations only apply to healthcare settings and NOT to the general public.
Basically, IFAS recommends that hand sanitizers be used only as an optional follow-up AFTER thorough handwashing or when soap and water is not available.
I'm sure they do serve a useful purpose at the buffet line as a "better than nothing" substitute for soap and water, however, I prefer a quick trip to the restroom to wash the old-fashioned way. Easier on the skin and cleaner too.
If I had to choose from following some one that washes their hands the way most do, and some one that has used a handsanitizer, it would not even be a close call. I would go with the handsanitizer, due simply to the fact that most do not know how to thoroughly wash their hands.
If everyone washed their hands like such:
Proper handwashing steps:
1. Remove rings and bracelets except for plain wedding bands.
2. Use soap and warm running water.
3. Lather hands and arms up to elbows with soap, for 20 seconds (sing "Happy Birthday" twice).
4. Wash the backs of hands, wrists, between fingers, and under fingernails using a nailbrush.
5. Rinse hands and arms under running water.
6. Dry hands and arms with clean, disposable paper towels. Turn off running water with a paper towel, not with bare hands.
I would say for get the handsanitizers, but very few do.
These are just my thoughts and I am not saying that any of the other posters are wrong.
Wouldn't it be easier to just follow the Great Unwashed out of the bathrooms to the buffet, grab the serving spoon out of their filthy hands and beat them with it? Effective behavior modification!
Seriously, I am so grossed out when I see people leave the bathroom without washing their hands. Especially on board ship. I love that bathroom doors are increasingly opening outward, so I can nudge it open with my hip after scrubbin' up.
I always use the paper towel to open the door, then hold it with my foot, then in a Jet Li style manouver toss the paper towel in the bin, use my heel to kick the door open enough for me to stealthily slide out, thus avoiding all contact with the door.
I always wait for one of the "great unwashed" to open the door and then, being an old person, I jump in front of them thus not having to make contact with door or boor. Works for me tee-hee. TTFN Jennifer
I have to admit I usually don't wash my hands. However that is b/c I carry hand sanitizer with me everywhere and use that afterwards instead. I hate having to carry your purse around trying not to let it touch the counter that always seems to be a wet mess and wash your hands and reaching for the papertowels trying not to let the water drip all the way down your arms and having to use 1,000 paper towels to dry off. Ugh
Sunnytropic: Great--so do you use the hand sanitizer while you're still in the bathroom, or do you touch the door with possibly e-coli-infected hands on your way out, leaving a little gift for the rest of us?
Explorer of the Seas October 2013
Caribbean Princess July 2006, May 2010 & November 2012
Monarch of the Seas November 2008
Crown Princess November 2007
Celebrity Zenith November 2005
Enchantment of the Seas August 2004
I just try and always use the bathroom in my cabin. Yes sometimes its a pain to walk all the back to the cabin, but having experienced the norvo first hand - I prefer knowing that it's only my and my cabinmates germs that I have to deal with.