Earlier this month, we were contacted by passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas because of back-to-back norovirus outbreaks requiring "deep cleaning" of the cruise ship.You can read our article about the situation here.
A number of passengers complained of some pretty gross conditions:
One lady said "i was swimming and had to go round feces, which was also in the jacuzzi...it was reported but nothing was said . . . "
Another man said "the most serious issue on board the ship was the failure of its sewage system, a point admitted by its officers during the Q and A session. The ship stank like a sewage farm throughout the 14 days. We we also found the bed linen in our cabin filthy (pillows were brown and needed to be replaced) . . . This ship has problems!"
And then there was the inevitable debate whether the virus outbreak was caused by the failure of some passengers to wash their hands versus noro-contaminated food or water versus a virus-laden ship itself.
Passengers are now telling us that the norovirus outbreak continues on the third consecutive sailing of the Adventure which is scheduled for yet another so-called "deep cleaning" this weekend. Passengers received an email from the company explaining the the ship will undergo the enhanced cleaning before it leaves Southampton on Sunday, October 26th. Will the next cruise become the fourth consecutive "Norovirus on the High Seas?"
Some of the people who contacted us have small children, elderly parents, elderly grandparents or they are recovering from cancer, or have suppressed immune systems. They are asking whether they can cancel and obtain a refund or reschedule. They are asking us what to do.
Unfortunately the cruise line holds all of the cards in this situation. Royal Caribbean will certainly keep your money if you don't show up for the cruise and it will absolutely not issue you a refund. The only issue is whether the cruise line will permit a few people to reschedule on a case-by-case basis.
Royal Caribbean just announced yesterday that it made almost $500,000,000 in profits for the third quarter of this year (and pays no U.S. taxes on that loot) so you might think that it has sufficient money to be understanding and reasonable under this circumstances. After all, its ship is sick. Who on earth wants to voluntarily subject their family to disease? But Royal Caribbean has a strict attitude against permitting fearful customers to reschedule even if there's something wrong with its ship.
One person who contacted us said he was nervous about his family "catching the bug" but fell that he has no chance to reschedule. He said he "will let you know how it went!"
Customers should not become human guinea pigs like this. A good vacation should not depend on the success of another last minute "deep cleaning" of a sick ship which repeatedly failed.
The ship is enormous - 15 decks, 10 pools and whirlpools, 15 bars, clubs and lounges, and thousands and thousands of cabins packed into its 1,000 plus feet. Its an enormous undertaking to clean a ship like this. The chance of a 100% eradication of the nasty bug is slim, no matter how hard the crew is pressed into working overtime. It takes only a few microbes of noro to sicken the next round of guests. The norovirus could be hidden under the commode seat cover or in the fabric of the duvet covers where the prior passengers were blasting millions of microbes of noro-infected vomit and diarrhea into the bathroom's and cabin's crooks and crannies.
There are few laws protecting consumers on the high seas. There should be a norovirus policy where a passenger can obtain a hassle-free refund whenever there is a consecutive disease outbreak.
If you get sick on the upcoming cruise, consider hiring a lawyer. No, not me. There's a good firm in the U.K. which has successfully handled cases this like. You can contact them here.
The cruise line is counting on the hundreds of its customers who fall victim to the pukefest not knowing what to do. After all, you and your family are really not guinea pigs, even if the cruise line treats you like one.
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