Norovirus on the Celebrity Summit: A Reader's View

From time to time, we will feature a reader's comments to one of our articles. The motto of our blog is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know," so we like to offer our readers a peek inside what really happens during cruises.

Here are the comments from a passenger who was aboard the Celebrity Summit during the recent norovirus outbreak we reported on last week:     

"While just more than 300 passengers is the official number, I was on that cruise and I can assure you that many, many more were sick.

Celebrity Summit - NorovirusThe majority of people did not report to the ship's doctor, preferring to stay in their rooms and tough it out. Each night during the height of the infection, many of the large tables in the dining rooms were virtually empty. Crew members and entertainers were also sick. Many people we're overtaken with little warning, and some did not get to the bathroom before vomiting or experiencing diarrhea. Often the halls in the stateroom areas reeked of excrement.

The staff worked very hard to keep things cleaned up and sanitized, but there were not sufficient staff on board to deal with this huge health issue. Unaffected staterooms were not kept up to the expected standard, as staff were always busy dealing with cleaning and disinfecting rooms where people were sick."

Do you have a comment or a story to tell about your recent cruise experience?  Let us hear from you.

 

Photo Credit: News 12 New Jersey

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Comments (9) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
tinikini - October 7, 2013 1:24 AM

This is so sick and wrong. I own a QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) and this is so preventable. If I ran my business like this I would be bankrupt, but yet the cruise industry continues to thrive.

Elderly people and children can't handle these types of illnesses and viruses it can kill them, as immune systems are weak or not fully developed. Why would you ever take the risk as a multi billion dollar industry?

Aren't the majority of cruise passengers "older" people? Then you have Disney that caters to the kids. I don't know what Disney's record is on Norovirus, but I am sure they have had their own contamination issues at some point in time.

Is the cruise industry telling us that our lives are not important and that it is okay to poison us? They are willing to poison their own crew, so I guess the answer is yes.

In my experience, the way you keep a clean QSR, is to have plenty of people to run it, work it, and clean it. That means with good pay, days off, and down time to regroup mentally and physically. Working with the public is a tough job.

The cruise lines cut corners when ever they can, which could lead to illness. They work their employees like dogs. When employees are not appreciated and taken care of they do not perform as well. When employees are exhausted things get overlooked and people get sick. I am surprised that yhis does not happen more often due to the way they treat their employees. It is not the employees fault, it is the conditions and environments they work under.

I know that if I took my elderly parents or in-laws or my grandchildren on a cruise and they got sick and it could have been prevented, trust me every single "higher up" in the white pants and white shirts would have WANTED to jump overboard to get away from me.

I guess after 35 years in the business I just have too much germ experience and this kind of stuff just pisses me off. I would never want to make one of my customers sick nor would I want to kill anyone and I would like the same respect back when I am out in public.

This why we have laws and guidelines. Thermometers and temperature logs, seafood logs, hand wash logs and the list goes on and on.

Maybe the Health Inspectors should go along on these cruises, since they flunk all the time, and see just what the problem is.

Better yet, maybe I'll do it. Haven't flunked a Health Inspection, EVER!!!!

Christine - October 7, 2013 8:17 AM

Having experienced my child becoming ill with gastrointestinal symptoms on a holland america ship, I would NEVER report the illness again to the health center. The rolling video on the stateroom tv upon embarkation encourages passengers to report any such illness to the ship's health center immediately and states that you will not be charged for such medical care. Being the responsible passenger and parent, I did report the illness and within minutes a nurse was at our door to document the illness and see my son. Sure enough, we received a bill for $150! I spent the rest of the cruise fighting this charge and was finally successful in having it removed from our bill. We were told by the staff that they were unaware that the HAL video in the stateroom stated that there would not be a charge for such medical care and actually had to review the tape to confirm this. We were also told they'd probably be changing the video. Profits are clearly more important than public health!

Bob - October 7, 2013 9:03 AM

The comment above, in my opinion overstates the actual situation.

My wife and I were on the Summit for the past two weeks. I can say that the crew did an excellent job dealing with the Norovirus outbreak.

I did not notice a significant number of crew that were sick, and none of the ship's officers. Two members of the ship's orchestra and one lecturer were sick for a few days.

It seems as if this type of virus primarily affects older folks with compromised immune systems. It also affects those that are too stubborn to wash their hands and refrain from touching bannisters and other ships fittings.

I personally noticed many, many passengers refusing to accept crew-offered Purell hand wash - even after it became mandatory. I also noticed many older male passengers failing to wash their hands after using the restrooms. A lot of this could be prevented by taken simple precautions, and by minimizing eating at the buffet, where the highest levels of contact with food and utensils occurs.

From what I heard, Celebrity believes the virus was brought on board in Boston where two other ships (Silversea and Holland America) were docked at the same time - both of which also suffered similar outbreaks.

Vivi - October 8, 2013 2:25 PM

The virus gets on board with the great help of people: in first place the ones that don't understand the importance of washing their hands and using the hand sanitizers that are in place on all cruise ships now days (important - sanitizer doesn't replace hand washing!, hand washing must take place at all times!) and then being sick the same people will refuse to stay in their room, going around and spreading the virus touching everything whatever is touchable, shaking hands, hugging people and you name it! The ships do their best to prevent outbreak for many reasons and one of them - to protect themselves as well. It's not much fun to have the crew sick and being able to provide the service as expected. @ Tinikini Sometimes you need to look deeper before you make comments! Thank you!

Me - October 9, 2013 11:53 AM

Purell doesn't kill norovirus so refusing to use it isn't a big issue. Soap and water help wash it off your hands, but don't kill it. There is not enough time between cruises to make sure that areas are properly cleaned.

Dan - October 9, 2013 6:46 PM

We too were on the Summit recently. We reported how dirty our royal suite was. They said they cleaned it, but the only evidence was that they used epoxy on the dining area parkay floor. The smell was horrendous. I had allergic reaction tongue swelled, face, nose, eyelids and had hives on face and upper body. The doctor on call would not acknowledge this and commenced to tell me that I was having an allergic reaction to blood pressure and cholesterol medications I have been on for years. He told me to stop taking these medications and he filled new prescriptions together with benedryl. They put in a IV to rehydrate me two times. At the end of the cruise I was taken off the ship in a wheelchair. I had been sick the entire second week. Our butler was under orders to charge us for all the bottle water we needed. They clean the suite with a dirty rag and some kind of spray they use in all the rooms and hallways. It's disgusting! You wouldn't use someone elses used tissue. How sanitary is that? They charged our ship account $600 for the doctor and pills (that I didn't use except for the benedryl). When we questioned the charge even though we had bought the travel insurance, the Concierge said we "must read the fine print." Three days after my allergic reaction, my disabled husband got the norovirus. Through all of this the doctor refused to come to our suite. They said we needed to come to the doctor office. This trip was from hell!

tinikini - October 10, 2013 1:13 PM

ummmmmm.....why is it that I can travel to Mexico and stay at my timeshare resort for long periods of time with thousands of people staying there and touching everything and eating at the buffet, etc....and I have NEVER come home sick. Eat whatever I want to, drink whatever I want to, and touch whatever I want to and have no problems. Are you all telling me that a third world country has a better sanitation plan and more money than a cruise ship to implement these sanitation plans and that everyone that stays at the resort washes their hands?????? Ridiculous. Does hand washing play a major role in helping not to spread disease??? You bet it does, but it does not replace proper sanitation plans that have to be implement hour by hour. Norovirus can come from contaminated water...how does cruise passenger's hand washing play into that? It doesn't. Does all the water on the cruise ship come from the USA? Doubt it. When there is an outbreak on land do they say it came from the shoppers at the store? Nope.

@Vivi....I am well rehearsed in sanitation and I think that I can dig a whole lot deeper than you on this subject, unless you work in the business and really know what should go on behind closed doors compared to what actually does go on. Thank you.

Mike - October 10, 2013 7:02 PM

Well Mr "tinikini".

I am not sure how much you know about GI, but it certainly does not seem to impress anyone else than your family.

The issues with GI on Cruise ships is that it is to 99,9% brought onboard by the passengers. As it normally takes 2 - 3 Days Before a person get sick they have then most likely been all around the ship.

As the ships are being sanitized the passengers leaving during the turn around day and they contaminating the Taxis and other means of transportations and when the new passengers are going in the same taxis back they bring the buggs with them onboard again.

Another thing, is that especially Americans can not eat or behave properly, and they are Always staning in the buffet line and eating food with their hands and than touches the Tools to pick up more food and continue eating in the line, with their hands unwashed.

The difference on your McDOnalds Wannabe resturant is that your customers gets their Montizumas Revenge 2 Days after they have left, and you ain't got no clue about it.

So have a nice fantacy live where you are

Ardie - October 25, 2013 5:39 PM

I think the point that is being missed when a ship is compared to restaurant or even a hotel. If a sick person goes to a restaurant, they get their food, then leave. Cruise ships represent closed environments. If someone is sick, they may be walking around contaminating surfaces before they are aware of their illness. The passengers are coming and going at ports, but for the most part, they are rather close. It's hardly any surprise that if someone is sick, the potential for quick transmission is significantly greater than that which exists in a typical land environment.

This event is rather freaky, particularly since I'm scheduled to cruise on the summit in a few weeks.

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