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Kami's pal

Noro (GI) - Xpedition veterans

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Considering the incorrect information that Snorkelin Barb received via phone contact, and considering the possible serious risks to unborn if their mothers feel safe merely because little has been posted about the GI incidents on Xpedition, please will any of you who experienced the gastrointestinal problems that certainly mimic Norwalk (even if no definitive tests PROVED that) restate here your experiences, which dates you sailed, and whether you consulted the ship's doctor? And if you did not yourself experience the problem but were told by someone in your group either while on board or immediately after returning home that "Galapagos gallop" had attacked them, please report that too.

 

The reports came in over about 6 weeks and on separate threads so it is not clear that this was an ongoing problem from, by my calculation, October 24 on. Trying to do the search means rereading hours of posts. If everyone who posted would keep it only to this thread, the information would be in one place. Thank you.

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Kami

I just wanted to bump you back to the top. I have not been on this trip, but have read many of the posts. I, too, am concerned for the pregnant woman who posted yesterday wondering if she should go on this trip. If you had issues on this trip, please post here so that she can understand the serious nature of what happened.

K

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We did not get sick... but one person from our group became very sick. We sat together for dinner in the Marriott & he was fine. The symptoms started the first or second day on board. He could not eat, had a fairly high temperature, & was vomiting. The doctor was tending to him every day in his stateroom. He missed nearly all the shore excursions. Upon his return to the States, he was admitted to intensive care for treatment. I heard from another friend (also on the sailing with us) that he spent a week in the hospital.

 

I will try to find out what the dx was. It was originally believed to be a gall bladder attack. This pax had symptoms that mimicked food poisoning -- except they lasted about 2 weeks.

 

By Day 2, the count was up to about 6 pax with similar symptoms. The Ship's Physician was busy running from room to room checking on everyone.

 

We traveled on the 11/7/04 sailing.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Ingrid

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This is certainly different from the info given me from the Dir. of Corp. Commun. at RCCL. I was told that in all of the fall-early Dec. sailings, there was only one group of 4 who had gotten the real GI illness. Also, through various conversations it had been determined that they had probably brought it onboard from Quito and may have gone off on their own in Quito, apart from Celebrity.

 

I was further told that this incident applied to either the last wk of Nov. or first wk of Dec.'s sailing. I was further referred to someone in Customer Svc (who 3rd partied in the gentleman from Corp. Commun) who checked CDC reports and told me they did not show any abnormal #'s. I was assured that Celebrity Xpedition files such reports and, in accordance with corporate policy, the cruiseline is even more particular and serious in this regard than it is required to be.

 

When I pointed out that the symptoms described on this website are much more virulent than the normal "turista" we're all familiar with and that the reports seem to encompass more than one sailing and more than one group, it was mentioned to me that some people are prone to hyperbole, that numbers can "multiply" because someone talks to someone who knows someone who was sick yesterday, etc.

 

I was further told that there had been follow through between Miami and the ship's top staff (including the doctor), to try to get to the bottom of these stories, so I'm hoping that will at least mean greater attention to the sanitary conditions onboard and the cleaning procedures so that cross contamination does not contribute.

 

We will be following many of the good recommendations found here (thank you, kami's pal, Mahini and others) and hope to bring back good news after our Jan. trip.

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Thanks Snorkelin Barb. I forgot that I needed to post my own story. I'll try to be brief.

 

I did a lot of worrying about altitude sickness before we left. NOT a big problem.

 

I did follow ALL the usual precautions regarding water, ice, uncooked food in Quito. Brushed my teeth away from sink, bathed instead of showering, smeared polysporin on lips before washing hair. Drank only bottled water. That is supplied on the tour buses too, so no worry about not having enough liquid at altitude. I did not get sick in Quito.

 

On Xpedition, I did relax about water and produce. At the orientation meeting the captain and doctor and chef were present and the question was asked about what precautions were necessary. All of us felt reassured that the water and food were safe. So though bottled water was supplied on ship for excursions, I did drink water from tap and from serving pitchers in the dining room. I'd advise against that now.

 

The GI problems started by Tuesday. Spouses and roommates would report that (s)he's "under the weather today." By Thursday noon, the number of empty places at the tables was very noticeable. Thursday evening, I ate the shrimp cocktail and salmon. They both tasted delicious. However, by 11 p.m. I was feeling uneasy. Too much sun was my optimistic diagnosis, so I went to bed. By 2 am Friday, I knew that "Galapagos Gallop" was resident in my body. This was a malady I'd encountered before, as has every one, but never this virulent. I refrained from using the "stoppers" such as Imodium or Tylenol#3 because I knew my body had to rid itself of the pathogens first. I endured this most violent activity from 2 am to 1 p.m. Friday. It was then that I decided I could safely start using my own remedies. By 3 I knew that I needed rehydration therapy, and called the doctor. He came, very kind, very sympathetic, very concerned that I had not called him before. He instructed me NOT to use any more of my own meds., and provided Pediolyte and Kaopectin. He took my temperature, which was only a degree higher than normal. "Not feverish," he declared. I think that I had been feverish earlier, but was not then. His refusal to glove alarmed me. but other than ordering him, "Don't touch anything!", there was nothing I could do.

 

I followed his instructions to have a bath, go outside, and drink tea. However, I felt very uncomfortable about being out among people so after drinking the tea, I returned to my room only 30 minutes later. I arrived in time to see my room steward remove her gloves and proceed to change my bed linens, empty the waste basket by reaching into it (saving the plastic bags?), and carrying out my empty water bottles. I know she had to be carrying my little virus enemies with her, but couldn't speak her language, and obviously, the doctor wasn't concerned about teaching that.

 

I went back to bed, and mercifully slept. A "diet" was ordered by the doctor. It was salad, poached chicken, Jell-O and tea. I ate the Jell-O and tea. Next morning, I confined myself to my cabin, eating a boiled egg at breakfast, and a bit of toasted bread at lunch. The soup was very oily and salty. I did go out on the zodiac at 4 p.m., but returned immediately to my cabin. I joined the group for the final presentation Friday night,drinking only water; went into the dining room, but carried my water glass from table to table just visiting. It was there that I learned of the 14 others who had been hosting Galapagos Gallop that week. I watched 30 minutes of the folk group, returned to my cabin and sleep. Saturday I still did not dare eat, so after tea, I followed the group to the airport waiting room, where one woman "joked" that she was going to pack adult Pampers next time. She had been ill since Wednesday and had "relapsed". I went to bed as quickly as possible in Quito, missing the visit to the market. I did attend the dinner, but only nibbled at the chicken. At 3 am I was wakened by a return of Galapagos Gallop. This time, I treated it very aggressively. I had an all day marathon plane ride to endure.

 

I relapsed 5 days later at home. My doctor ordered all the tests for bacteria, virus, and parasite. None found, so my body did eventually heal itself.

 

This is not a mild stomach upset. over in 12 hours. It lasts 12 hours in it's most violent form, but I was unable to eat or exert myself for 72 hours and did not fully recover for at least 3 weeks.

 

It was present on the ship.

 

Those who became ill were not necessarily travelling together. One spouse would be ill and the other not. I did not snorkel, so that theory didn't explain my source.

 

I had been scrupulous about using alcohol wipes and Purcell hand sanitizer before I ate, washed, brushed my teeth etc. Obviously I wasn't scrupulous enough.

 

I am concerned that Xpedition and Celebrity and RCCL are not voluntarily trying to find the source of this, are not trying to confine it, not trying to educate their staff. I was asked no questions, filled out no forms, gave no samples. In short, the doctor only provided liquids. The bill was very reasonable $40 for his visit, and $20 for the meds. Calling the doctor should be made mandatory. Room stewards could alert doctors when passengers stay in the cabin. I was very frightened at one point because I was certain I was going to pass out. I was alone in my cabin. There are no call buttons in the bathrooms.

 

What to do?

Use peptobismal prophylactically starting 2 days before leaving home. Use it on the ship.

 

Wash your hands with hand sanitizer every time you touch the guides' hands, boarding or leaving the zodiac. Do so BEFORE you touch your camera and water bottle.

 

Lock the room steward out and only let them in when you can supervise them. Insist they glove before entering your room. Supply the latex gloves and teach them how to remove them.

 

Insist that the food be served by the wait staff wearing latex gloves. Wash your hands and your utensils before you use them. The staff has set the tables.

 

Clean the door handles, taps, phone, TV remote (cover it with a zip lock bag and hide it!), light switches after the steward leaves the room and every time you enter the room, and anything else your steward might touch with ungloved hands. I had been careful to put all my toileteries away, so she shouildn't have touched anything except perhaps she moved the kits to dust the shelf under the sink. However, next time, my book, journals, camera etc. are all going into drawers so that as far as I can I'll prevent strangers from touching them.

 

Don't be afraid of looking paranoid. The one person on my trip who was very conspicuously phobic did not get sick. He remained well as far as I could tell. He didn't miss any meals. ;)

 

I wish that I didn't have to sound so alarmist. I'd just hate for anyone else to be even more hurt than I was by this. I missed 2 days of my holiday, and was quite frightened by the violence of the attack. But I didn't suffer any lasting effects. Some, I know, were worse. One woman was vomiting blood. Now that sure sounds like Noro virus to me. Is Celebrity not wanting to investigate this in case they might have to do the vessel sanitization protocol? I don't know, but I am most frustrated by their indifference. There is a problem. It is likely a third world pathogen meeting first world immune systems. But can the spread be slowed or prevented? We won't know until RCCL, Celebrity, or Xpedition admits the problem.

 

So go. Enjoy.

 

And if you do catch this, be very assertive that Xpedition stop ignoring this.

 

 

And if you do get this, insist that Xpedition must take proper measures.

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At the request of Kami's Pal, I'm posting my experience on the November 19-29 cruise tour.

 

My father and I each had a "touch" of diarrhea on Tuesday on board the ship. Taking the cipro which my travel clinic had prescribed seemed to do the trick. Dad did not develop any more problems after that. I, however, was up all night Thanksgiving night with diarrhea, and I again took cipro. There was no relief. I then resorted to immodium AD which stopped the diarrhea. By Friday afternoon, after having only had a cup of tea for breakfast and one slice of pizza for lunch, I was feeling better and opted to go snorkeling. Upon returning to the ship I began to vomit. Although I went down for the presentation by Phillipe, I felt too ill to go to the dining room for dinner, and ordered soup and cheese and crackers in the cabin (that was the night lobster was served for dinner and I missed out on it!). Upon waking Saturday morning, I had developed an extremely bad cough and congestion. Upon returning home, I visited my doctor and was under his care for several weeks to try and clear up the respiratory infection.

 

Some of the people I spoke to who indicated they had GI problems are as follows: The pediatric cardiologist and her friend both told me at breakfast on Friday (when I was having my cup of tea), that they had both been sick since Tuesday, but were doing the excursions since they didn't want to miss out on anything. In discussions with the lady who was going on to Macchu Pichu with her husband, she told Dad and I that her husband had been sick for three days and had had to call the ship's doctor. The wife of the retired pathologist developed diarrhea the last day on board the ship, and after returning home she emailed me to say that both she and her husband suffered diarrhea and vomiting on the way home. At the final dinner in Quito, one of the people sharing my table stated he had been sick on Tuesday before ever snorkeling, in response to my comment about the doctor indicating it was caused by swimming in the lagoons with the various animals. And finally, I received an email from the English couple after they returned home indicating that the husband had developed diarrhea on the plane on the way home.

 

When I became sick onboard the ship, I did not contact the doctor, but rather treated it myself, thinking it was a simple case of "turista". However, I did make mention on the comment card I filled out onboard; it is my understanding from a couple other people on the same sailing that they too mentioned it on their comment cards. In addition, I sent an email to the first person Kami's Pal had contacted; however, I have not heard back from him nor anyone else. And finally, in December I received an email questionnaire from Celebrity/RCCL asking about my recent trip, and once again I mentioned the illness on that questionaire.

 

For those who may not have noticed it, Cruise Critic has an article about the noro virus: http://www.cruisecritic.com/cruiseplanning/articles.cfm?ID=71

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And we had no problems. We drank only bottled water both in Quito and on the islands. We ate and drank anything that was served in the dining room without the first bit of trouble. We ate and drank all the drinks and snacks served when we returned to the ship. We had an absolutely awesome, fabulous, wonderful, unbelievable time. A few people (3-4) out of 88 passengers complained of illness. But in any group of people, some are going to be coming down with something. They could have brought it with them, they could have picked it up in Quito, in the airport, anywhere. Just be diligent about washing your hands, etc.

 

Did I mention we had an awesome time? The crew is wonderful. The ship is splendid. The crew is spectacular. The islands are gorgeous. The crew is the best. The ship and the itinerary alone would have made for a good cruise. The crew including the naturalists made it a wonderfully fabulous unforgettable dream trip!!!!

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I agree with Honor. Had a fantabulous ( is that a word?) time even though I got very sick the morning we left Quito for the Galapagos. By dinner on the ship I was mingling with the other guests and eating some plain pasta. After that I was "good to go". At least one other passenger that I know of got sick in Quito. Nothing contageous since my DH ate and did whatever I did and then some and didn't get sick. I was cautious, but hey, put a first world digestive system in the third world and sometimes there are problems. We were on the same sailing as Honor (12/5), and a small group of people were ill at one time or another. None "related" to each other. One day towards the end of the trip I stayed onboard during the morning excursion since I was feeling very slightly unsettled (no "facilities" on shore). A crew member asked if I wanted to see the doctor. I felt there was no need. It could be that they don't know just how many people get sick since so many of us don't bother to call unless we are in dire straits. I'd caution that expectant mom to save this trip until after the birth. No need to take chances. But that's her decision.

I'm missing the warm weather already. There's snow on the ground and we're getting more tomorrow.

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Hi Judy,

 

Thanks for posting.

 

YOU have snow too? Wow. I've been looking longingly at those southern states. Calgary was a no driving zone last night; right in the middle of a blizzard. My little dog keeps asking to go out, and then turning around and coming right back. I know she wants me to turn up the heat!

 

Back to GI problems. I agree. Likely most people didn't report to the doctor. If I had not left my powdered Gatorade in Quito, I'd not have asked for him either. But i knew I needed the rehydration salts. I could have mixed the recipe myself; it's just a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar in a litre of water. But I called for the ready made stuff instead.

 

I still think that the doctor (who attended me, into and out of my room without taking any precautions like gloves), and the staff who move from room to room cleaning cabins of contagious passengers, need to be educated.

 

The other big problem is that RCCL refused to acknowledge the problem. So many of the posters related different theories, but no one did anything to realistically try to stop this.

 

But, There really do seem to be less and less getting sick; or at least fewer are reporting here that they got sick. If enough people will post, we can likely figure out how many weeks this GI bug attacked. My group, with 14 out of 70, seems to be the worst. Hopefully those who are there now, having read all this, will be able to report less than 1%. That's very reasonable on a cruise line like Celebrity. 20% is not.

 

And yes, please don't expose yourself to this if you are pregnant. The convulsions alone might bring on a miscarriage.

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We are following you next month, the 11h of Feb. check out my thread "Glapagos-What was the REAL weight of your bags" I found it quite relieving. Are you honestly a snorkeler? We are. And I am really excited about the potential. Also, let me know if they have dive weights available on the ship. It's a bear to try to go down in a wetsuit, even just 3 mil.

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I really don't mean to scare u but please think twice about this trip!! This wasn't related to a cruise but I did experience GI when I was in the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy. Up till then, no problems. It was a horror to get severe abdominal pains, and the "runs", and not be able to take anything. I thought some of those pains were early labor pains. I thought I was losing my baby! I had already lost 2 prev. pregnancies. The Dr. had me on bed rest for the next couple of days! Now imagine that when you're many thousands miles away from home! Would u be comfortable going to a possibly underdeveloped area hospital? and that's if u could even get to one!!!

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I was on the Xpedtion for the cruise December 28th- December 5th. I think this reports of GI illness has been blown totally out of proportion. I think when you leave home to visit Mexico, South America or other unfamiliar country you should know up front that there may be a problem. If they already tell you “don’t drink the water”, add to that unfamiliar food, stress and excitement of travel (sleep deprivation) you must know there is a possibility of the body getting upset. I have a very weak stomach, and I am happy to report I was fine on this trip. However, my husband did have a bout of “tourista” on the 3rd day of our trip. It lasted about 12 hours. A couple of other passengers we got to know had a similar experience. The doctor was very helpful, and did not charge for her visits or any of the medication. The ships’ chef prepared special foods. I do know however that a few people who were not well did not follow the doctors orders and thought it was more important to get their fair share of alcohol since it was included in the price of the cruise.

 

What I really want to get across is: Please, if you a considering going on this cruise … do it for the right reasons. You will NOT get the usual Celebrity cuisine. (They have to buy locally, and some things are just not available… they don’t want to introduce anything new to islands) It’s NOT about drinking. There is NO nightlife (except for a beautiful folkloric show the last night onboard). It is the most naturally beautiful and most peaceful place I have ever been.

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As long as the bottled water isn't bottled in Quito. Kami's Pal, thanks for you elaborate and wonderful response.

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I am really enjoying reading everyone's posts about the Galapagos trip. I am planning on (and saving for!) this cruise in 2006. It's important to hear the unfortunate stuff too, i.e. problems with altitude sickness, GI illnesses etc., so future passengers are aware and can prepare themselves.

 

There was definitely some very virulent strain of GI illness going around in November and early December. We had a luncheon in my company and around 60 people got sick. Some were very sick (one person burst a blood vessel in her eye from vomiting so much), while others were only mildly affected. We don't think that it was necessarily the food, but rather that there was just one "Typhoid Mary" (so to speak) who was present and it just spread like wildfire. Unfortunately it is just one of those things that could never be traced. The food had been ordered from many different places and no one could ever really say who had it first! Many times people are sick and don't even know it until it is too late and they have already infected others. I think it is just one of those unavoidable things. I plan to go prepared for this possibility.

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Hi,

As of this point I am not a Galapagos Veteran (so I have not had Tourista)although I feel that I am since I have a 4 inch 3 ring binder that has every message that has ever been posted on this board regarding this topic. (My SO thinks I am anal and I don't know why!) I have already booked for mid September 2005 but I can get a comparable deal for early November 2005 ( even though the listed price is significantly more). My question for those who have already been is this: is there any benefit of going in September versus November. I personally suspect not but I thought I would enquire nevertheless.

Thanks,

Jay

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The naturalists on board told us that the best time to visit is mid-November to mid-December, or mid May to mid June.This is the best time to see the wild life. We went at the end of November and probably saw every animal we expected to see except the red-footed booby since he is in the highlands during dry season. If you're going for plant species... you need to go after the rainy season. They also said they arrange tours differently in the summer and do less hiking and more snorkeling.

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Working Aboard a Cruise Ship

By G Podolsky MD former Chief Medical Officer for Carnival Cruiselines

http://www.skylarkmedicalclinic.com/cruisesafety.html

 

Excerpt:

 

Traveler's diarrhea

This condition can generally be averted by careful attention to what you eat, especially on shore. The cruise doctor is responsible for doing a weekly "diarrhea log" of all affected passengers and crew. If the ship has an incidence of 3%, it is considered significant and must be submitted to the CDC. They generally investigate large outbreaks. Part of the assessment of cruise ship hygiene depends on the regular submission of the weekly diarrhea log and failing to comply will cost points off the ships rating, so this is done scrupulously and is one of the major duties of the ships doctor.

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Thanks, Jen. I have been relieved of some of my more comfortable assumptions:

* that the crew would receive proper medical care at least while on board the ship.

*that I could trust the medical staff and captain to want to treat illnesses and injuries, whether crew or passengers, at least as quickly and as effectively as I would receive in Canada

* that all crew would have to pass thorough screening such as teachers, nurses, cooks etc. would in Canada before working with the public. I had to be screened for TB, have all my vaccinations, inoculations before I was hired. I assumed that all cruise crew would be similarly treated.

 

Wow. This is awful.

 

What I observed on Xpedition, (doctor attending infected patient without taking basic sanitary precaution such as gloves) was not a one time oversight, but possibly the norm.

 

That from now on I should consider the ship as a third world medical facility, and protect myself accordingly. :(

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Let's see what the former Celebrity CruiseEmployee says about the link & information contained therein. I posted the link on that thread as well. Although, what occurs on most Celebrity ships may not necessarily take place on the Xpedition, because it only frequents third world country locales.

 

Sorry if this information is disconcerting, but perhaps it is reality & pax need to be informed in order to take appropriate precautions.

 

Jen

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Thanks Snorkelin Barb. I forgot that I needed to post my own story. I'll try to be brief.

 

I did a lot of worrying about altitude sickness before we left. NOT a big problem.

 

I did follow ALL the usual precautions regarding water' date=' ice, uncooked food in Quito. Brushed my teeth away from sink, bathed instead of showering, smeared polysporin on lips before washing hair. Drank only bottled water. That is supplied on the tour buses too, so no worry about not having enough liquid at altitude. I did not get sick in Quito.

 

On Xpedition, I did relax about water and produce. At the orientation meeting the captain and doctor and chef were present and the question was asked about what precautions were necessary. All of us felt reassured that the water and food were safe. So though bottled water was supplied on ship for excursions, I did drink water from tap and from serving pitchers in the dining room. I'd advise against that now.

 

The GI problems started by Tuesday. Spouses and roommates would report that (s)he's "under the weather today." By Thursday noon, the number of empty places at the tables was very noticeable. Thursday evening, I ate the shrimp cocktail and salmon. They both tasted delicious. However, by 11 p.m. I was feeling uneasy. Too much sun was my optimistic diagnosis, so I went to bed. By 2 am Friday, I knew that "Galapagos Gallop" was resident in my body. This was a malady I'd encountered before, as has every one, but never this virulent. I refrained from using the "stoppers" such as Imodium or Tylenol#3 because I knew my body had to rid itself of the pathogens first. I endured this most violent activity from 2 am to 1 p.m. Friday. It was then that I decided I could safely start using my own remedies. By 3 I knew that I needed rehydration therapy, and called the doctor. He came, very kind, very sympathetic, very concerned that I had not called him before. He instructed me NOT to use any more of my own meds., and provided Pediolyte and Kaopectin. He took my temperature, which was only a degree higher than normal. "Not feverish," he declared. I think that I had been feverish earlier, but was not then. His refusal to glove alarmed me. but other than ordering him, "Don't touch anything!", there was nothing I could do.

 

I followed his instructions to have a bath, go outside, and drink tea. However, I felt very uncomfortable about being out among people so after drinking the tea, I returned to my room only 30 minutes later. I arrived in time to see my room steward remove her gloves and proceed to change my bed linens, empty the waste basket by reaching into it (saving the plastic bags?), and carrying out my empty water bottles. I know she had to be carrying my little virus enemies with her, but couldn't speak her language, and obviously, the doctor wasn't concerned about teaching that.

 

I went back to bed, and mercifully slept. A "diet" was ordered by the doctor. It was salad, poached chicken, Jell-O and tea. I ate the Jell-O and tea. Next morning, I confined myself to my cabin, eating a boiled egg at breakfast, and a bit of toasted bread at lunch. The soup was very oily and salty. I did go out on the zodiac at 4 p.m., but returned immediately to my cabin. I joined the group for the final presentation Friday night,drinking only water; went into the dining room, but carried my water glass from table to table just visiting. It was there that I learned of the 14 others who had been hosting Galapagos Gallop that week. I watched 30 minutes of the folk group, returned to my cabin and sleep. Saturday I still did not dare eat, so after tea, I followed the group to the airport waiting room, where one woman "joked" that she was going to pack adult Pampers next time. She had been ill since Wednesday and had "relapsed". I went to bed as quickly as possible in Quito, missing the visit to the market. I did attend the dinner, but only nibbled at the chicken. At 3 am I was wakened by a return of Galapagos Gallop. This time, I treated it very aggressively. I had an all day marathon plane ride to endure.

 

I relapsed 5 days later at home. My doctor ordered all the tests for bacteria, virus, and parasite. None found, so my body did eventually heal itself.

 

This is not a mild stomach upset. over in 12 hours. It lasts 12 hours in it's most violent form, but I was unable to eat or exert myself for 72 hours and did not fully recover for at least 3 weeks.

 

It was present on the ship.

 

Those who became ill were not necessarily travelling together. One spouse would be ill and the other not. I did not snorkel, so that theory didn't explain my source.

 

I had been scrupulous about using alcohol wipes and Purcell hand sanitizer before I ate, washed, brushed my teeth etc. Obviously I wasn't scrupulous enough.

 

I am concerned that Xpedition and Celebrity and RCCL are not voluntarily trying to find the source of this, are not trying to confine it, not trying to educate their staff. I was asked no questions, filled out no forms, gave no samples. In short, the doctor only provided liquids. The bill was very reasonable $40 for his visit, and $20 for the meds. Calling the doctor should be made mandatory. Room stewards could alert doctors when passengers stay in the cabin. I was very frightened at one point because I was certain I was going to pass out. I was alone in my cabin. There are no call buttons in the bathrooms.

 

What to do?

Use peptobismal prophylactically starting 2 days before leaving home. Use it on the ship.

 

Wash your hands with hand sanitizer every time you touch the guides' hands, boarding or leaving the zodiac. Do so BEFORE you touch your camera and water bottle.

 

Lock the room steward out and only let them in when you can supervise them. Insist they glove before entering your room. Supply the latex gloves and teach them how to remove them.

 

Insist that the food be served by the wait staff wearing latex gloves. Wash your hands and your utensils before you use them. The staff has set the tables.

 

Clean the door handles, taps, phone, TV remote (cover it with a zip lock bag and hide it!), light switches after the steward leaves the room and every time you enter the room, and anything else your steward might touch with ungloved hands. I had been careful to put all my toileteries away, so she shouildn't have touched anything except perhaps she moved the kits to dust the shelf under the sink. However, next time, my book, journals, camera etc. are all going into drawers so that as far as I can I'll prevent strangers from touching them.

 

Don't be afraid of looking paranoid. The one person on my trip who was very conspicuously phobic did not get sick. He remained well as far as I could tell. He didn't miss any meals. ;)

 

I wish that I didn't have to sound so alarmist. I'd just hate for anyone else to be even more hurt than I was by this. I missed 2 days of my holiday, and was quite frightened by the violence of the attack. But I didn't suffer any lasting effects. Some, I know, were worse. One woman was vomiting blood. Now that sure sounds like Noro virus to me. Is Celebrity not wanting to investigate this in case they might have to do the vessel sanitization protocol? I don't know, but I am most frustrated by their indifference. There is a problem. It is likely a third world pathogen meeting first world immune systems. But can the spread be slowed or prevented? We won't know until RCCL, Celebrity, or Xpedition admits the problem.

 

So go. Enjoy.

 

And if you do catch this, be very assertive that Xpedition stop ignoring this.

 

 

And if you do get this, insist that Xpedition must take proper measures.

How horrible your experience sounds with that third world paogen meeting first word resistance. How long ago did this happen? Do you know if any thing was done since to rid Xpedition and other ships of these pathogens.

I am leaving on the Feb 6th Expedition to the Galapagos. This gives me another thing to be concerned about. Using hand sanitizer, and putting things away so that no staff member touches it, washing hands before meals, are all easy to do. The other things you suggest, I'm not sure I can remember to follow every day. Is there anyone out there who is on this trip? I would like to hear from you.

Jruth4@aol.com

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How horrible your experience sounds with that third world paogen meeting first word resistance. How long ago did this happen? Do you know if any thing was done since to rid Xpedition and other ships of these pathogens.

I am leaving on the Feb 6th Expedition to the Galapagos. This gives me another thing to be concerned about. Using hand sanitizer, and putting things away so that no staff member touches it, washing hands before meals, are all easy to do. The other things you suggest, I'm not sure I can remember to follow every day. Is there anyone out there who is on this trip? I would like to hear from you.

Jruth4@aol.com

 

Well, yes, it was certainly unpleasant, painful, frightening and costly, in that I missed 2 of the 7 days. Horrible I reserve for cancer and murder, so I won't go that far. ;)

 

But I think what I find most alarming and frustrating is that I still do not percieve any medical or corporate attempts to slow this or reduce the incidence. I was sick Nov. 4, 2004. I tried emailing several persons. I did report to the ship's doctor. So did at least 4 others of the 14 (out of 70) passemgers who were sick on that cruise. I've alerted everyone else who reads these boards. No measures have been taken to address this.

 

And I strongly believe that better sanitary conditions could reduce the incidences of it. There has to be a will to do so.

 

However, I've not seen any reports from the January 1-9 of illness, so maybe the incidence is getting lower.

 

We need to keep hearing from those who return, please.

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Hi folks,

Well, it's the trip of a lifetime and I hope to put up a full review! But sorry to report that of 90 pax, approximately 40 were felled by severe GI problems. As for the "official" number, the hotel director confirmed to me on Weds. that Celebrity would be reporting 15 to the CDC. The doctor continued to see people that day, however, and told a pax she was #18, so I don't know what the final count will be. Add to that all those who did not see the doctor and, hopefully, suffered something less severe.

 

Comments such as, "I've never been this sick in my entire life" to "I felt like I could just die" were heard by the most diehard. Unbelievably, my husband and I did not get sick!

 

We just got back last night and looking through the pictures this morning, it is a trip I would not want to have missed. The naturalists and crew were gracious and knowledgable.

 

Stay tuned. I was really feeling the altitude when I came back into Quito so am still getting my bearings. Hello to any fellow pax out there - it was a remarkable trip, wasn't it?

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44%! That's twice as many as the percentage I heard about on the Oct. 31 sailing. And I agree. This is the worst GI attack I've ever had. I have had it before, once on a cruise out of Buenos Aires and 3 times at home, caught from kids at schools I taught in.

Never was I as sick or as frightened as with 'Galapagos gallop' version.

 

So glad to hear that you did not get sick. After you recover from jet lag/ airplane dehydration etc. will look for a longer review.

 

Can you think of any factors that may have contributed to your dodging the 'Galapagos Gallop' bug?

 

Were you more informed, perhaps because of this forum, than others?

 

What measures, if any, are Xpedition crew taking?

 

There are some interesting articles in the news lately; one on this CC news letter home page. Measures suggested include vigourous scrubbing, laundry with STRONG bleach solution of 100 ppm (rather than 1000 ppm), heat or steam cleaning of soft furnishings, and use of disposable gloves among wait staff and cleaning crew to prevent crew from inadvertently carrying it from place to place. Also, some crew may have no symptoms or very minor symptoms due to more immunity to THEIR local pathogens, so don't realize the virulence or violence to passengers who are hosting this for the first time. I wonder if ANY testing of crew or sick is happening? New tests have been developed that allow very swift (days rather than weeks) identification of the pathogen.

 

 

Did you witness any violations of sanitary protocol (such as not using gloves) that are recommended by CDC?

 

Get rested and we'll all thank you for any insights you can provide when you're ready.

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Kami's pal,

 

As you know, I had been following these postings closely before going and incorporated many of the suggestions into our routine. Bob & I didn't follow the exact same guidelines, either, but here's what might have helped us:

 

-In both the Marriott and the cabin, I used anti-bacterial wipes on all surfaces, handles, remote control, phone, lightswitches. Repeated this routine a couple of times on the ship when it seemed to me that the cabin stewardesses move freely from "sick" cabin to healthy cabin, so took extra precautions.

 

-Drank no water or ice in Quito anywhere. No lettuce, salads, ceviche, fruits (other than bananas). I continued the no salad or fruit routine even onboard but Bob had a few salads with dinner and fared fine.

 

-The bacteria (e-coli was apparently mentioned by the doctor) seems to have emanated in Quito and probably had very little to do with the ship. The Celebrity tour reps in Quito make a POINT of announcing on the Sat. bus that everything at the hotel buffet as well as the lovely Crater Restaurant for lunch is safe, that water & all drinks are safe, etc. The doctor onboard certainly did not seem to agree. Instead, I think Celebrity has to issue precautions, not reassurance, if, in fact, the source was Quito. The doctor said if you got sick before Weds. it was "Quito".

 

This isn't possible for most people on the regular packages, but it probably helped us tremendously that we arrived on Weds. night. Thurs. the elevation really affected me and we laid low, then toured a lot on Fri. By the time the 9am-5pm heavy duty touring began on Sat., we were relatively rested. Even at that I felt a headache & slight nausea up at the Winged Virgin monument, 10,200' up (and we took altitude medicine!)

 

2 bottles of bottled water were provided for tootbrushing at the Marriott. Plenty of bottled water was available on the Celebrity tour buses.

 

Due to fog & storms in the northeast, some folks didn't reach Quito until 1 am Friday night, hit the ground running on Sat. with the tour, flew to Baltra Sun. morning & then 55 out of 90 signed up for "high intensity" that afternoon. The next morning, most of us did the 7 am Kicker Rock excursion (followed by the regular morning & afternoon excursions). That's a lot of stress on the system and several people said that they boarded the ship "sick". We also had a group of 3 who had been out of the country and boarded the ship sick. By Mon. & Tues., into Weds., people were dropping like flies.

 

Add to that some periods of intense sun, snorkelling off zodiacs in pretty cool water, etc. and 2 excursions a day go go go and you're asking a lot.

 

By Weds. things were freaky enough that I went to the very amiable Hotel Dir. Juergen. We told him that we would like to see some concrete steps to "contain" the problem, since by this time he was calling it "an outbreak". I asked if it would be possible to station someone at the railings, wiping things down. At first I was told that "We are cleaning all this micro bacteria while you're sleeping", but we emphasized that people are going up and down the stairs all day, all touching the same surface, and that in the large ships we often see the extra cleaning.

 

We also asked about putting in the globe sanitizers like the big ships and were told they are "on order". Again, with everyone touching the same serving spoons in the dining rm and "sick" people allowed to eat their special meals of baked potatoes & steamed veggies at the regular tables among us, it's very hard to prevent spreading.

 

Well, later that afternoon, 2 makeshift soap dispensers with hand sanitizer had been installed next to the life vests as we got off the zodiacs. Nothing in the DR, however. As well, the hotel dir. indicated he will be getting off and doing a thorough investigation of the Marriott & Crater Restaurant to check out the sanitary conditions & preparation of food. Obviously, he has no interest in getting a reputation as a "sick ship". And people are buying a "Celebrity 10 or 11 night package" - so if it is Quito (as the Hotel Dir. and Restaurant Mgr. said), then precautions must be taken. People suggested some advisory sheet be included in ship documents. With the beautiful surroundings & all the gorgeous roses in the Marriott, it's hard to think that you're in a third world country nonetheless.

 

As those who have gone before know, the bottled water given out for excursions is in unlabeled bottles. Both of us drank it. We generally carried the refrigerator (labeled bottles) to meals with us, despite protestations that the regular water served onboard was fine. (It was heavily cholorinated). Bob drank it occassionally. I drank no ice onboard, though it was probably fine, until the last 2 days virgin pina colada (obviously made with crushed ice).

 

We chewed 4 Pepto (only) each per day as the doctor had advised that bacteria have a hard time attaching to the stomach wall. Yes, we got a bit of "black tongue" and didn't take as much Pepto as I've read "recommended". My husband is convinced the Pepto regimen was key.

 

The doctor prescribed Lomotil, cipro and a special diet and seemed extremely conscientious about calling people's rooms and following up. They took surveys about everything people had eaten & drank but I was told that they couldn't find a common thread.

 

As for what the doctor did and what her personal cleaning routine was, some of the sick people will have to jump in. I have no idea. I heard that she requested someone's room to be "cloroxed down" but I don't really know how "sick" rooms were treated. The doctor apparently said the "partner" in the room got sick from the other one, so it was pretty common to see 2 people from the same room down within a day or two of each other.

 

I'm sure this is way too much detail, but may help others. We were told that the previous week's cruise had had "zero" sick, so 1/16-1/23 was a really bad week obviously.

 

Any questions? Will be happy to answer.

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