January 31, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013
Carnival Cruise Lines promises that “Even tiny moments will be massively memorable” and that “experiences like these are made to be shared.” Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines guarantees that a vacation with them “Is an experience you’ll never forget.” Well, there is some truth in their advertising.
In the past week alone, two of the premier cruise line operators have seen their top of the line ships stagger back to port early due to an outbreak of the dreaded Norovirus. This nasty little virus is described by sick bay medics as a “fast moving gut bug” which causes severe gastrointestinal illness, vomiting, diarrhea, ugh, you get the point.
The Caribbean Princess (Princess Cruise Lines) reported that 176 passengers and a dozen crew members fell victim to Norovirus as it disembarked in Houston. The Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean Cruises) explored a little too deeply the wonders of just how many of its passengers could, um, toss their sea-cookies over board. This sleek ship slunk back to New Jersey with over 700 passengers “reeking of V and D.” (see above for abbreviations my inquisitive friends).
And earlier this year, and let’s be honest, this year is still in its infancy, the Norwegian Star cut its “cruise of a lifetime” short and pulled into Miami with 130 passengers and over a dozen crew now with a whole bucket full of “tiny moments that will be massively memorable.” Oops, sorry, that’s Carnival Cruise. In their case they were hoping that once the Noro and the Virus subsided they would all “Breathe Easier.”
So, what in the name of Captain Jack Sparrow is going on with what is supposed to be “elegant entertainment on the high seas” lately?
I mean, seriously mateys, is it just me, or does it seem that these cruise ships come back with seriously sick passengers and crew more often than Gilligan tried to escape his island on a Banana Boat raft? (Kids google Gilligan’s Island then let’s talk).
Well, curiosity got the better of me since I have flirted in the past with actually purchasing some of those “tiny moments that will be massively memorable” and I did some research.
There is something called the Vessel Sanitation Program which many but not all of these ships participate in to report things like illnesses and diseases on board. In 2013 there were 10 such vessels that reported at least 2% or more of its passengers contacted the Norovirus and in one instance (Holland America Cruises) E-Coli, another nasty virus. In 2012 there were actually 16 such ships.
So, maybe the tides are turning eh?
Well, according to some folks I checked with knowledgeable about the leisure cruising biz there are concerns that besides not all ships participating in the VSP several either reduce their number of sick passengers or do not disclose at all.
I think we can safely guess why. Spending one’s vacation with a bird’s eye view of the side of a ship or the contours of the porcelain god (toilet for you land-lubbers) may in fact be an “experience you’ll never forget” but one we’d all rather pass up.
Still. The good folks at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) would no doubt like to see full participation, full disclosure and may I humbly suggest, fuller preventive measures in the first place?
This nasty Norovirus can be reduced or even eliminated by doing such things as washing one’s hands thoroughly, ensuring all foodstuff is washed and fresh and that the ship is well “ship-shape” and cleansed from top to bottom.
Seems that with what these cruise line operators charge more can be done, no?
Or, the alternative will continue to be in far too many instances the memories that Susan Rogutski will forever savor from her cruise on the “Explorer.” Poor Susan had “three days of sickness and quarantine, I had to be dragged to sick bay after I passed out and all my personal belongings were packed in biohazard bags.”
She’s still not sure if she’ll even get all of her stuff back after contributing her cash and time to what has become a $37.8 billion industry each year.
Her memories though, priceless.
Officials from Royal Caribbean Cruise lines post helpful traveling tips for even the “saltiest of sea dogs.” Here’s a tip I’d like to suggest for all in the cruising business. Get your act together fast or next time we’ll pass up the “tiny moments” and stay home with the kids and watch the Pirates of the Caribbean on the DVD.
I never was one for shuffleboard anyways.