Norovirus Hits Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas - NorovirusA reader of Cruise Law News in the U.K. alerted me to an article in the Daily Echo that one of Royal Caribbean's cruise ships based in the U.K. has been hit with a break out of norovirus: 

"Thousands of holidaymakers due to set sail on board a Southampton-based cruise ship were hit by delays yesterday after norovirus hit 117 passengers and three crew on the liner’s previous cruise.

They were delayed boarding Royal Caribbean ship Independence of the Seas until 3pm so that her cabins and the cruise terminal could be sanitized.

She set sail just after her scheduled 7 PM departure."

Were you on this cruise?  How did the cruise line handle the outbreak?  

Please leave a comment below.

March 7, 2012 Update:

Professor Ross Klein's website has this quote from a passenger:

"We have just returned today 06.03.12 from an 11 day cruise on Independence of the Seas.  We were asked to check in late (15.30), by email.  We were left standing in corridors, the check in lounge and even outside for about three hours. They kept apologising for the delay over and over again.

While we were on the ship the staff were constantly sanatizing all handrails chairs and tables, the shops were sprayed every night.  Each time someone entered the toilet a voice would say"Stop don't forget to wash your hands."  When you sat down to dinner then someone would announce that we were on a high state of alert for Norovirus and to please wash your hands. We were handed wipes each time you entered a venue. We were not allowed to put condiments on our food the waiters etc had to do it for you. They even had to put the milk in you coffee and handed you sugar packets with tongs. We felt like lepers and it spoiled the whole holiday.

must say that the crew had to work extra hard but they always had a smile for us, but they must all be shattered."

 

Photo credit:  Daily Echo

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Comments (13) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
L. CHARLES - March 7, 2012 6:00 PM

The cruise line's handling of the situation was great - crew were personally handing out disinfectant cloths to people entering dining rooms, cafes, stores, etcetera, hand sanitizers were everywhere on the ship and regular announcements were made re washing hands. The crew also served all food and drink, even salt and pepper!

Pete O'Sullivan - March 7, 2012 6:45 PM

We departed the Independence yesterday morning 6th March, we had sailed her for 11 nights to the canary islands.
I'd have to say the cruise line and all the stall worked tirelessly throughout this cruise to ensure the health and well being of all passengers.
As a seasoned cruiser we can confirm these RCCL ships are cleansed on a daily basis in order to keep us, the customer in good health.
It's very unfortunate when someone brings a germ onto the ship, however rest assured your in good hands in the unlikely event this should occur on your cruise.
We look forward to cruising Independence again in June, and with no concerns at all.
HAPPY CRUISING.

Nigel Young - March 9, 2012 6:07 AM

We sailed on the Canary Island Cruise 25th February 2012 departing the ship on the 6th March, and as previously reported the crew are constantley cleaning, this is both re-assuring and concerning (just how bad is this outbreak) however the information given on departure day was incredibly poor, we unfortunatley stood in line from 2pm before boarding at 7pm, and seating is limited in the city terminal Southampton only about 20 places and we eventually sailled at 7.40 in the evening, up until boarding the information given by RCCL was "the ship is being cleaned and awaiting the all clear from the Health Authorities and we have no idea how long take or when we will be given the all clear" some passengers were fortunate and were transferred to the QEII terminal but many of us were fated to stand and wait.
during the cruise we asked about numbers with the virus on the previous cruise, they politley refused to quantify only saying it was in the hundreds,rumours abounded with it being in excess of 600 and people dieing, these figures were quoted to me a number of times, they should have been quashed by RCCL but they took a position of silence, prior to joining the ship RCCL issued us with email telling us that they have had a number of cases of Novovirus on board Indepedance of the Seas, a number of cases is 5 or 10 not 117, it seemed strange at the time why they offered the option of cancelling the crusie until a later time, obvious now.
In summary the cruise crew did there upmost to prevent further outbreaks but the information given by captain and crew was to be positive but reserved and failing to given direct information when asked.
The Novovirus was still active on our cruise, be careful

M. Fischler-Arenstein - March 12, 2012 8:42 PM

My husband and I were also on the sailing of Feb.24- March 6th. we traveled from the U.S. to take our annual vacation and we DID NOT receive notification of any issues in the ship prior to our arrival at the port. We were told that we would only have to wait til 2pm that the ship is being cleaned-however no one told us why it was being so extensively cleaned. we are frequent Rccl cruisers and this was the first time we encountered a problem like this but will be the last cruise we take. We felt like prisoners, like we were infected, got yelled at if we didn't want to take a hand wipe, had to see crew in full suits with face masks, chemicals all over, and do not be fooled! my husband got sick with the virus on our sailing and according to guest services so did 80 others. We were told that 400 passengers got sick on the prior cruise.If we had gotten notice of this outbreak we would definitely not have subjected ourselves to this horriffic holiday...

hood - March 14, 2012 8:53 AM

Our 44th anniversary cruise departing southampton on 7th march where there was a delay in boarding due to ship undergoing a deep clean.Similar cleaning regimes in place eg hand wipes,constant hand wash reminders.My wife ,previously in good health,was unfortunately affected and confined to cabin 24-48h but this extended to nearer 72h due to slow recovery.Others were affected as far as we could tell .Eventually had enough,felt my wife was vulnerable and disembarked ship at next port.Holiday a disaster; very little of food ,entertainment,or enjoyment for us.

Trudi lilley - March 18, 2012 11:29 AM

I travelled on 6th march sailing in a group of 9. I caught the norovirus which was very unpleasant and had to call ships doctor at 4am. She was very good and after I had an injection started to feel better. Was confined to cabin for 48 hrs after last symptoms. I was disappointed to miss Vigo and Lisbon ports But the staff were very good and the care I received excellent. It was a shame but didn't ruin the holiday and luckily no one else in my family caught it but I would beinterested to know how many other people on the ship got it as the doctor would not tell us.

Ruth Hubbins - March 22, 2012 6:33 PM

We sailed on Independence's 24th February departure and were absolutely shocked by the amateurish way RCI dealt with the huge numbers of passengers who were forced to stand waiting for hours while they double deep cleaned the ship before departure. They must have known days before the 24th that this delay would occur as they had such large numbers of infected people on board. They bused many of us into Southampton for lunch, but by 2.30 thousands of passengers returned to a tiny departure hall containing few seats and little air. Others were trapped in the drizzle outside, standing with no information as to how many hours this would continue. We finally boarded at about 6.30, totally exhausted and angry.

The constant reminders during the cruise that there was a serious danger of infection and the long and tedious lectures by the captain in all his addresses made us feel we were travelling on a plague ship. Indeed, a rather nasty atmosphere was fostered by some passengers who muttered darkly that it was all the fault of other cruisers with filthy habits. In fact, all the evidence points to the fact that Independence has a chronic problem with Norovirus and passengers were embarking healthy but meeting up with the virus on board.

I agree with some other commentators that the crew worked tirelessly pouring our milk for us and preventing us from touching the condiments, but none of this stress and tension makes for a carefree holiday and I for one feel that I am owed an apology from RCI. Independence is a spectacular ship but our enjoyment of the holiday was irretrievably marred by the threatening atmosphere. We were never warned that this was what we might expect from the cruise and I am unlikely to board that ship again,

Joyce Campbell - March 31, 2012 8:01 AM

We are joining the Independence of the Seas in May 2012, I am worried about this virus and like everyone else do not want to be sick. This as we know is caused by people
who do not wash their hands after using rest rooms. They have no regard for anyone else's welfare and are disgusting. Would cancel this trip if I could get all my money back, do not think I will cruise again.

Ren Zwiers - April 4, 2012 6:16 PM

My partner and I were on the March 6 departure from Southampton and found out about the delay in boarding at our hotel in Southampton the night before. However, we were onboard just after 3pm and in record time, virtually no waiting. We were allowed in our stateroom around 5pm.
The ship's crew worked tirelessly throughout the cruise to keep the virus at bay and I'm glad to report we stayed healthy throughout the cruise and enjoyed every moment of it.
My previous cruise was on Royal Caribbean's huge Oasis of the Seas in the Caribbean with a full complement of 6000 passengers onboard and NO noro-virus anywhere to be seen. The noro-virus onboard Independence was (to us at least) only a minor hiccup in a perfect holiday and I would not hesitate to cruise with Royal Caribbean again.

Mr P. Thorpe - April 19, 2012 8:56 AM

Following the above comments we sailed on the independence of the seas on the 25th feb to the 6th march 2012 we could not board as they were cleaning the ship because of the virus on board (so thay new there was a problem) it was about 4 hours waiting in the cold before we were allowed on board,it was complete chaos every one cleaning and spraying sanatizer, when you sat down it was wet fair enough they tried to solve the problem with no success my wife got the virus on the sunday night a doctor was called gave my wife a injection and pills and we were put into isolation there we stayed for 72 hours with the doctor paying us visits and staff phoning us three times a day we had yellow stickers on the door all cups glasses and bed valance removed the cabin steward coming in last thing to clean so he could go straight back and shower after cleaning, we felt like lepers no one allowed in or out of our room.food from room service was cold i took it down to customer desk twice this was recorded on their log, we missed 2 ports of call our holiday was ruined i contacted royal caribbean they said we could have £150 off our next cruice with them what an insult.

J Lawley - April 21, 2012 8:42 AM

My husband and i sailed on the cruise which had the start of the outbreak of Norovirus. We sailed on the 13th feb 2012 for 11 nights to the canary islands. Half way through the holiday is when people started coming down with the dreaded virus! The staff were very good at trying to stop it from spreading by constantly cleaning handrails etc. anti bac wipes given on entry to all restaurants and anti bac gel around the whole ship which you HAD to use. Even with all the cleaning the virus was spreading very quickly around the ship. One night after everyone went to bed they completely fumigated the whole ship. At this point self service was pulled from the cruise and only staff would plate your food etc. 3 days before the end of the cruise I caught the dreaded virus and was confined to my room for 24hours. The doctor on board was very stressed with the amount of people coming down with the virus. My husband lucky didn't caught it. The ship would not give numbers of how many people had caught Norovirus on our cruise but one staff member told someone we knew on the ship that is was approx 400 people were infected and 3 people died. In all we had a lovely time and are looking forward to our next cruise.

John McGeoch - November 24, 2012 10:24 AM

My wife & I were on the 25/02 - 06/03/12 Independence of the Seas cruise. Having arrived at ship at 12:30 for a 16:30 sailing we found ourselves being bussed to another terminal and being cooped up with approx 600 other passengers for 6 hours with very little in the way of hot drinks and no information on the reason for the delay. Finally we were bussed back to the ship for boarding. Within less than 48 hours I caught the norovirus bug and was quite poorly. I was treated by medical staff with injections and confined to my cabin for 3 days on a diet of bananas,dry toast & jam and missing out on the first 2 ports of call. during the trip I received an unsigned letter offering as a 'gesture of good will' some sort of credit on a future cruise. After the trip I wrote to the company about compensation not only for my ordeal but for that of my wife during my ilness and her fear of catching the bug herself. I explained to them that I did not want to take a cruise again. Their response was to provide me with 2 'future cruise certificates' valued at £130 each for me and my wife, which I feel was a very poor response having told them I did not want to cruise again, and I do not intend to use the certificates.

Susan Cooper - January 17, 2013 3:30 PM

My Mother and I were on the 13th Feb 2012 for 11 nights. We had been warned that the previous cruise had had a problem with Norovirus. We used all the provided sanitisation we even took our own on board as we always have some with us anyway. The first few days were fabulous and we were even talking about our next one! Then the announcements about hand washing increased big time. We went to watch the show one night in the theatre and the lady sitting next to me was telling us that her husband was in quarantine down in the medical centre with Norovirus. She however was free to come and go as she pleased. Despite all our efforts I went down with the virus in the middle of the night. I have never vomited so violently and as often as I did! I went down to the medical centre and joined the queue waiting for attention. I eventually had an injection which would stop the sickness. I was also quarantined with calls from reception checking I was in the cabin several times a day. Unfortunately the next day I was still being violently sick and was taken down by wheelchair down for another injection. I asked for some of the rehydration drinks as I wasn't even able to keep water down. They told me they had run out as so many people had gone down with it. The next day I was still the same and a nurse came to see me but then she called for the Doctor to come to the cabin. They wanted to give me yet another injection! They told me this one would be very strong and it could make me drowsy. It did but it worked, I was then able to eat dry toast and bananas, great eh with all this wonderful food on board! Then my Mother went down with it but she had diahorea. I went and got her some capsules which she took but they didn't work. She had another lot and seemed to improve a little although she still felt really ill. Yet again we were kept in our cabin, well Mom was and I didn't really want to do a lot on my own. The night before we were due to dock my Mom was ill again, I fetched her some capsules but the nurse on duty didn't even ask the cabin number, it was as if it didn't matter anymore we would be off their hands in a few hours. My Mother took 12 of these capsules to get home. She continued to be ill when home for 6 weeks. Mom made several visits to the GP and two visits to A&E. On the third visit to A&E we refused to move until they sorted my Mom out. She had lost such a lot of weight she was grey, I was shocked when I saw her as live 150 miles away and had gone down to try and get her sorted out. Eventually after nearly a week in hospital and a barrage of tests they diagnosed Ceoliac Disease. My Mom is 74 and has never had any problems like this but now she has to live with this disease which does affect your everyday living. I would just like to say that the crew seemed to everything they could but we were told by one crew member that whenever they docked at the one particular port they ALWAYS then had the virus on board! He told us that over 600 people had gone down with it on our cruise alone and three people died. I did call the Company who refused to take any of the responsibility saying that someone had brought it on board from Southampton. They sent us vouchers for £130 off our next cruise but my Mom won't even consider going on another cruise, who can blame her. We missed several trips we had booked and only managed to get off the ship at two ports. It should have been a holiday of a lifetime but it turned to be hell.

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