The Great Thing About Dodging a Norovirus Outbreak

We had something we’ve never had happen to us on a cruise yet, happen: a Norovirus outbreak.

Or “gastrointestinal illness” as the captain kept referring to it.

Actually I have to give Princess Cruises a lot of credit for their handling of the situation. They did everything in their power to try and get it under control and minimize the amount of people who got sick. For instance:

  1. They sent us an email the day before embarkation letting us know the ship we were going to be on had had an outbreak.
  2. They deep disinfected the ship before we got on, which delayed our boarding time. (Which I was perfectly fine with. Get that ship clean! I can wait.)
  3. They instituted mandatory hand washing followed by using sanitizer prior to entering the Lido buffet areas. (I’ve always seen the auto hand sanitizer stations on other ships, but what I liked about this Princess ship was they had sinks right before each entry.)
  4. They had staff stationed to hand out dishes and silverware rather than let people get it themselves. (The only thing they could’ve done better that we’ve seen on another line, Holland America, was not letting people serve themselves. Holland America does that the first 48-72 hours of a cruise. Kind of a pain, and increases the time it takes to get food, but again. I can wait. I’d rather be safe than sorry!)
  5. They stepped up their cleaning regimen and even did a second deep clean while we were in one of the ports.

The thing I was most disappointed in was fellow passengers. Most were happy to comply with the washing, but there was a fair amount who argued and tried to get out of it.

The excuses we most commonly heard were:

  • “I’ve already washed them!”
  • “I just did it in my stateroom!”

A couple of times we saw people get extraordinarily belligerent and indignant to the crew members tasked with manning the washing stations. So rude!

Hello? They’re trying to make sure your vacation doesn’t get ruined. It doesn’t hurt you to just go ahead and wash your hands again. In fact, it may help you.

And I don’t know about you, but every time I use a public restroom I’m appalled at people’s potty behavior. Talking on the phone while doing their business? (Think about it. You still have to handle your phone after your done wiping and such. But who disinfects/cleans their phone when they wash their hands?)

If they even wash their hands, that is. That’s what disturbs me most. The amount of people who don’t.

Gross! Super gross!

It’s not hard to see how germs can spread.

However, what a great lesson it was for us. We washed, and washed some more and gladly used the sanitizer stations at will and as often as possible.

Because we also spoke with fellow passengers who said if they got sick, they wouldn’t report themselves. They didn’t want to be quarantined. (The captain asked us to call onboard 911 to report any vomiting, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Then they did have you stay in your stateroom for a period of either 48 or 72 hours, I’m not sure which.)

In the interest of public health, had I gotten sick I would’ve done the responsible thing and turned myself in. But knowing others wouldn’t be so honest?

I had trust issues, which made me wash my hands more, as well as be more aware of what I touched and didn’t touch. Such as my face. I tried not to touch it, especially around my nose and mouth. I also tried not to hold hand railings unless necessary. I pressed elevator buttons with my knuckles. I didn’t shake hands when first meeting people.

My husband did the same. And we’d remind each other if we saw the other slacking on something.

Consequently, we dodged the Norovirus outbreak and were able to enjoy our vacation. Woot!

We’ve also noticed the good behaviors we were forced to adopt on the ship have become our way of life back home now too. Well, we were both always pretty good about washing our hands and such (especially after using the restroom!), but we’re definitely more conscious of washing before eating and after touching certain things, such as “hot spots” (door handles, elevator buttons, pens, etc.).

Life is too short to waste it being sick!

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