Tag-Archive for » Norovirus «

Shaking Hands With Cruise Captains

This is a sign of the apocalypse: Don’t shake hands with the captain of your cruise ship.



According to a recent story in London’s Daily Mail online edition, captains have been warned about shaking hands with passengers, lest they be infected with the dreaded Captain-Princessgastrointestinal illness that we are encouraged to believe only happens on cruise ships.

Oops. We’re guilty. We’ve met captains on almost every cruise ship we’ve been on, usually for an interview, and without fail we have shaken hands probably before and after the interviews. We may be just doing elbow bumps in the future.

The Mail’s story included this message from Crystal Cruises to its guests who may be attending a reception attended by the captain.

“While the captain is pleased to meet you, he and the other staff receiving you refrain from shaking hands in order to provide the most effective preventative sanitary measures.”

Apparently, this has been Crystal’s policy for seven years. Unlike norovirus, it hasn’t spread through the industry, but it could. Or common sense could prevail because, in the words of the Cruise Lines International Association: “You are 750 times more likely to get norovirus on land than on a cruise ship.”

There is another alternative to avoid spreading germs: Wash your hands before meeting the captain.

But that’s old-fashioned and most un-apocalyptic.

In the news…

• Cruise ships bypass Bermuda because of Hurricane Joaquin
• Multi-year partnership for Carnival and New Orleans Saints
• Severe weather delays start of New Zealand cruise season

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Norwegian Sun
17 nights
November 4, 2015
San Diego, Huatulco, Puerto Chiapas, Puerto Quetzal, Puntarenas, Salaverry, Lima, Arica, Coquimbo, Santiago
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $35

Landmark Decision About Norovirus

We are told that life, in terms of the legal community, is all about precedent. Well, here’s a precedent for the cruise industry that is going to be celebrated in cruise headquarters from Miami (Royal Caribbean) to Santa Clarita (Princess) to Genoa (Costa).

And it happened in England.

The subject: norovirus.

In a lengthy, wordy document filled with legalese, a British judge last week ruled against passengers who were suing TUI Cruises for becoming ill with gastroenteritis (norovirus) while on the Thomson Spirit, a ship chartered from Louis Cruises. The 43 claimants alleged either that they contracted norovirus because the cruise line was negligent or they were at risk because the cruise line breached its contract with them.

The judge ruled no, in both instances.

In what will be hailed as a landmark decision for cruise lines, here is the most compelling part of the explanation from the law firm that defended TUI:

“The judgment…is of great importance to the cruise industry in recognizing that norovirus is not caused by the ship and that even with high levels of implementation of industry procedures, outbreaks of norovirus do occur.”

Where have you heard that before, in so many words? Right here, because we have long felt the cruise industry has become a poster child for norovirus, a gastrointestinal disease that can strike wherever large groups of people are in close contact.

Like on a cruise ship, but not only on a cruise ship.

The defendant satisfied the judge that the cruise line’s carrier fully implemented systems for cleaning the ship after 16 passengers had suffered from norovirus on its previous cruise, and for reacting to the outbreak on the subsequent cruise.

And guess what evidence was taken into consideration?

Complaints from the stricken passengers about TUI’s procedures. They were no longer allowed to have self-serve food at the ship’s buffet. They were given paper napkins. They were confined to cabins.

That, said the judge, proved the cruise line responded properly to the presence of norovirus.

Will this “landmark decision” change the linkage between cruise ships and norovirus? Probably not. Ships — not daycares or seniors homes or shopping malls — will likely remain the poster child for norovirus.

In the news…

• Viking Star aborts cruise and returns to Bergen for mechanical repair
• Quebec to be latest Canadian port with shore power for cruise ships 
• Kung-Fu Panda restaurant on Quantum of the Seas, now in Singapore

Today at portsandbows.com: The story of the Viking Star's cruise

Holland America Westerdam
7 nights
November 14, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Half Moon Cay 
Inside: $415
Cost per day: $59

Norovirus — The Navy’s Solution

The latest norovirus episode on a cruise ship — 172 people ill on the Crown Princess in Los Angeles this weekend — has raised an old story about the U.S. Navy. It’s about how the Navy more or less prevents such outbreaks on its ships.

With more than 3,000 sailors and marines on ships, the Navy adopts the preventive strategy.

Here’s how:

* Sailors are required to report to sick bay if they feel ill

* Supervisors force sick sailors who are reluctant

* If they’re sick, they’re isolated

* The Navy does a “cleaning station” of the ship every morning

* Preventive medicine technicians inspect galleys many times a day

* Sailors swab, inspect, scrub and scour every day

For the most part, it works. Thinking it would work on a cruise ship is a much different theory.

Nobody on the ship can monitor 3,000 passengers to see if anybody’s not feeling well. It’s unlikely cruise lines would designate “preventive medicine technicians” whose sole purpose is to inspect galleys, although regular inspections are common. And having cleaners underfoot all day long throughout the ship would be a negative for people on their vacations, especially when more than 90 per cent of the time there’s no threat.

But here’s the biggest reason comparing naval ships and cruise ships is apples and oranges:

Sailors must follow orders, and there are consequences when they don’t.

Today at portsandbows.com: Holland America's new look

Carnival Inspiration
2 nights
December 18, 2014
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada 
Inside: $101
Cost per day: $50

Norovirus News…Haven't You Heard?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more commonly known as CDC, announced this month that the occurrence of norovirus on cruise ships is “rare” and “dramatically lower” than the number on incidents of the illness on land.

The interesting thing about this announcement is that it didn’t receive nearly as much exposure as any of the reports over the last few years about cruise ships with the dreaded norovirus on board as an unwelcome passenger.

Good news travels like a bad Internet connection.

Anybody connected to cruising has either known or suspected this for a long time, yet cruise-line officials are constantly having to defend their ships when sickness breaks out.

The CDC report was accompanied by statistics, too.

With 20 million cases of norovirus on land, every American has a 1-in-15 chance of being infected.

In 2013, there were 10.1 million cruise passengers boarding ships in the U.S., and 834 infected during the four norovirus outbreaks. Get out the calculator, folks…that’s a 1-in-12,000 chance of being infected.

Rarely is another segment of society called to explain why norovirus is in its environment. Clearly, cruising shouldn’t have to defend its industry. The good thing about having to do so is that it keeps cruise lines on the front line of defense against norovirus.

Just where it long has been.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
September 22, 2014
Jacksonville (return): Nassau, CocoCay
Inside: $169
Cost per day: $33

Cruising Suffering From Norovirus, Too

We know people on cruise ships can be sick of being sick. Can it be that cruise-blog readers are sick of reading stories about people being sick on ships?

Here we go again…

On almost the same day that passengers and crew on the Crown Princess were reported to be suffering from norovirus, a Harris Poll that was conducted after outbreaks on three ships showed how the public feels about major cruise brands because of the disease.

First, the latest news from the ship…

Carrying 3,141 passengers, Princess Cruises confirmed that more than 100 people were sick and that testing proved norovirus (gastrointestinal illness) was present.

Now, the poll…

Trust in cruise lines dropped 12 per cent and purchase intent 13 per cent across seven major brands, among them Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Worse yet, public perception levels were even lower than they were after the much-Explorer of the Seaspublicized fire and debacle aboard the Carnival Triumph last year. The poll was conducted shortly after 700 people on Explorer of the Seas were ill with norovirus.

Coincidentally, at least to us, the Crown Princess and Explorer of the Seas are two ships we've been on in the last year. 

It wasn't us…honest!

Today at portsandbows.com: Expansion of the rivers of America

Sun Princess
12 nights
May 31, 2014 
Kobe (return): NazeOkinawaIshigakiHualien 
Inside: $1,099
Cost per day: $91

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