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Gnoelj

Norovirus/Other Hygiene-related Outbreaks-Is VO doing enough to Reduce Incidences?

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Between Dec 2018 and Feb 2019 the CDC reported some outbreak "incidents"and that included twice on the Viking Star (1st time: Causative agent was "rotavirus" and 2nd time Causative agent was "unknown") and once on Viking Sea (causative agent: "norovirus")? See

https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/surv/gilist.htm#2019

 

We realise this problem can and has happened to many other cruise lines, so Viking is not alone in this. However, compared to other cruise lines, do you think Viking Ocean  has been as stringent enough in trying to minimise any more of these incidents occuring on board? Or are they too concerned that this might annoy their customers if they remind them to wash their hands regularly, etc,  that they may lose their business? Should Viking Management be doing  more - if so, what can they do? Should passengers be more considerate towards others and be more careful about their own hygiene? 


This issue was discussed in another thread ("Viking Star - Current Mechanical Issues") but it went "off thread"  and this issue was discussed. Someone suggested maybe we should start a new thread to discuss this very  important issue.

 

If you have any opinion, observations, experience etc about this issue, especially related to Viking Ocean it would be good to hear from you.

Edited by Gnoelj

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Viking is doing just fine!  We are all adults and responsible for our own health and know what needs to be done.  I am assuming that most of us live in the real world.  We attend public performances, shop in malls, work in schools, offices. etc.  Who is responsible for keeping you from catching anything on a day to day basis?  I spent more than 30 years working in a pre-school for special needs students which was frankly a bit like working in a petri dish but never caught anything that I could reliably trace back to school.  I have been on 12 cruises; three of which had minor "outbreaks" of something nasty and (knock-wood and pass the Purell) I never missed a day for illness.  Take care of yourself and you should be fine.  People who are not responsible about hygiene will always be there no matter how aggressive a cruise line is about hand sanitizer, etc.  

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We were on the Sea during the January outbreak.  It was small and I thought Viking did an excellent job - crew worked through the night, changes were made immediately (spa and pool closed, buffet was no longer self serve, crew was at the door to restaurants ensuring people washed their hands before entering, menus and things like salt and pepper shakers were removed from the tables - clearly they have a process that gets followed).  All we saw for several days were crew members walking around cleaning railings, elevator buttons, etc.

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My husband has a habit of washing/sanitizing on his way into a dining venue, and on the way out. That's starting to sound like a good idea. I don't want to become so worried about catching something that I can't enjoy a trip, as sometimes things happen, but a few extra measures can't hurt.

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Most of the ships I have been aboard, both working and cruising, provide hand sanitiser at the entrance to dining venues, but at the World Cafe, Viking provide both sinks & hand sanitiser. By providing sinks, as well as sanitiser, I consider Viking is addressing the situation better than some other cruise lines.

 

While hand sanitiser, with high alcohol content, may kill some germs/viruses if used correctly, hand washing is considered more effective, as it washes germs/viruses off the hands. However, hand sanitisers are only effective, if used correctly. Hands must be rubbed to cover all surfaces and continue rubbing until the hands are dry.

 

How often do we see pax shaking off the sanitiser, or drying hands on clothing, napkins, etc.

 

Should a cruise line assign staff to both ensure every pax uses sanitiser or washes their hands correctly before entering a dining venue. What is a reasonable action for non-compliance ???

 

While Noro is particularly unpleasant, just how prevalent is it aboard cruise ships and life in general. Vessels are required to report to CDC, I believe, when > 2% have gastro-intestinal issues. Depending on the percentage, in my experience cruise lines have a 3 stage tiered response. Unfortunately, I can't recall the percentages required to trigger each level. However, with Princess, the first sign was usually the public washroom doors being propped open.

 

In our experience, the worst outbreak we have seen was about 50% of the ship, with the root cause being the loading of contaminated fruits, which were used at a midnight buffet the day they were loaded. No manner of onboard cleaning, or pax sanitisation would have prevented this outbreak.

 

Since Viking has a predominantly older and well travelled pax base, my expectation is they provide the sanitiser/sinks and a crew member to provide reminders to those that miss the cleaning. If passengers disregard this reminder, even if they were forced to sanitise/clean, sadly they most likely would NOT complete the task effectively.

 

I don't believe Viking should employ some of the strong arm tactics used on Mainstream Mega ships. If passengers are continuously refusing to sanitise/wash and are observed conducting in unsanitary practices by handling food, then I suggest a warning is appropriate, followed by removal from the ship for continued infractions. Any warnings/disembarkations should be addressed privately.

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5 hours ago, molymoo said:

Viking is doing just fine!  We are all adults and responsible for our own health and know what needs to be done.  I am assuming that most of us live in the real world.  We attend public performances, shop in malls, work in schools, offices. etc.  Who is responsible for keeping you from catching anything on a day to day basis?  I spent more than 30 years working in a pre-school for special needs students which was frankly a bit like working in a petri dish but never caught anything that I could reliably trace back to school.  I have been on 12 cruises; three of which had minor "outbreaks" of something nasty and (knock-wood and pass the Purell) I never missed a day for illness.  Take care of yourself and you should be fine.  People who are not responsible about hygiene will always be there no matter how aggressive a cruise line is about hand sanitizer, etc.  

This ^^^^^.    Viking did a great job of stopping the spread of Noro on the Star and Mr Beans stated above what all Viking did for the Sea.   As stated above it can happen on any cruise line. 

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There is no special thread needed to single out Viking for discussion.

 

The cause of the outbreaks is bad hygienic practices of passengers (and maybe crew) on boa

 

If one does not wash their hands anytime after using the toilet (especially men who blithely assure that if they just urinated handwashing is not needed), then we will have outbreaks occurring anytime hands contaminated by feces touch surfaces.

 

Strict quarantine to a cabin for anyone who has contracted the infection is the best solution  to control the spread.

 

And for the rest of us, wash your hands at the sinks provided by Viking. A thorough hand washing is the best way to protect yourself and others for fecal/hand/ mouth transmission.

 

Do not think moving the layer of dirt around with hand sanitizer can take the place of washing with soap and water. 

 

 

Edited by Homosassa

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Bad news:  One major problem we have seen is passengers coughing into their hands, then touching everything in sight.  At times we have moved away when eating or in the theater because of sick people nearby. 

 

Good news:  We were seated near the World Cafe entrance on the Sun yesterday and saw every single person use the sanitizer or sink(s).  Incidentally all the officers use the sink.

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29 minutes ago, Jazmyn49 said:

Bad news:  One major problem we have seen is passengers coughing into their hands, then touching everything in sight.  At times we have moved away when eating or in the theater because of sick people nearby. 

 

Good news:  We were seated near the World Cafe entrance on the Sun yesterday and saw every single person use the sanitizer or sink(s).  Incidentally all the officers use the sink.

 

We agree with just about everything that has been stated so far.  We are on the Viking SEA right now and have observed it all.  In the end no matter what Viking does, there will always be people who disregard others and theirs/others health.  The only way to prevent it would be for Viking to prevent people from entering an eating area without sanitizing or washing hands.  But then you have all the other venues as well (like the Star Theatre, the bathrooms, doors throughout the ship, etc.  Thus, that is not practical.

For us, it is a matter of looking out for yourself and continuting to be diligent in using Prell, washing hands, etc. - just like you are on an airplane.

We are seeing many people totally disregard the hand washing as they enter the World Cafe.  An we have seen several people either sick or coughing in their hands just before they use the buffet.  It is a fact of life and could occur in a restaurant back home.  Our advice - just take precautions  (and knock on wood).   Viking is doing the best they can with this touchy subject.

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On 2/24/2019 at 1:16 PM, Heidi13 said:

Most of the ships I have been aboard, both working and cruising, provide hand sanitiser at the entrance to dining venues, but at the World Cafe, Viking provide both sinks & hand sanitiser. By providing sinks, as well as sanitiser, I consider Viking is addressing the situation better than some other cruise lines.

 

 

I was pleased to see sinks on the last two ships we sailed, Regal Princess and Carnival Pride, at the buffet.  I think they also both had restrooms near the MDR if one wished to wash vs. using sanitizer.  I wonder if most lines are moving in this direction now on newer ships or adding in dry dock to older ships.  I don't remember seeing a lot of passengers using the sinks, but I felt better being able to wash with soap & water vs. just the sanitizer.

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Risk isn't just at the buffet.  Viking runs port intensive itineraries.  Just too easy to pick up germs on shore and carry them back aboard.  Then unknowing passengers spread them on railings and elevators 

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Just boarded the Star. Buffet is self serve which is quite surprising. My experience has been that for first 24 to 48 hours buffets were not self serve as a precaution. 

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