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schmoopie17

Just off the Bliss. Possible Norovirus

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During our 15 day March 30 Panama Canal cruise, many people (including both my wife and myself) became ill with stomach cramping issues. Coincidentally, an announcement was made over the PA system that many people had become ill by "eating onshore". As a result they offered free medical visits to anyone experiencing symptoms by calling 00 on the cabin phone. We both called multiple times but the phone was never answered. 

 

Very odd situation. Not only were they blaming the situation on "eating onshore", but nobody picking up the phone was also strange. It should be noted that NCL played this very close to the vest, as crew members were very tight-lipped about the situation, but it was obvious by the announcement (and the fact that hand sanitizer dispensers instantly appeared in all elevators) what was going on. We also overheard a passenger at the pool telling people that he had been quarantined to his cabin for a couple of days.

 

I realize that viruses are a potential hazard when cruising, flying, or just about any other activity of daily living, but found the handling of this situation to be very odd. Apparently, NCL thinks everyone who became did so as a result by eating "onshore" and not on the ship. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

@schmoopie17You only note one symptom, stomach cramping. In my experience noro is usually accompanied by a combination of two or more of the following: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or cramps, diarrhea, tired feeling, fever, and muscle aches. There is a test using a stool sample. What more did you want the crew to do? I'm sure they have to be careful not to cause a panic. However, they increased sanitizers, free medical, quarantined at least one passenger and made at least one announcement. I do agree that not answering the line provided was troubling. Did you discuss this with Guest Services or try calling medical directly?

Edited by JennyB1977

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Posted (edited)

I just got off the cruise with you. Indeed there was some tight lipped issues going on. As the captain said they believed the issues were related to the tours .... many of which were food based or had food served. Do we know that's the case? We don't..... We were also told that there were many crew members were out sick. Did you also notice that all the public restroom doors were propped open? They did that so nobody had to grab the door handles ......... 

 

I will also say this. I have never seen more sickening unsanitary behavior by passengers  then I did on this cruise. This cruise was a much older demographic due to the price and length of the cruise. I witnessed older guests not washing their hands after using the restroom, hence the door propping. The buffet ..... Oh man ..... the buffet. What a germ factory. I watched countless times people eating food off their plates while standing in line and over other food ..... To make that worse, I witnessed several finger lickers at the buffet that would lick their fingers while in line and then grab the food tongs ..... I couldn't believe it! So nasty! I watched people cough and sneeze right into their hands in the buffet then grab the tongs as well. Have people no brains or common sense anymore? These are the people that get and spread norovirus and then wonder why or how they got it or why there is an outbreak. The buffet was a germ factory and most of the people I saw doing these things were older. I don't know if their minds are slipping but it was just unreal and gross ....... The ship did a great job with sanitizers, washy washy, cleaning and counter measures ...... It was the negligence of the passengers that led to the spread, I guarantee that ......

Edited by tallnthensome

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Were workers in the buffet filling plates and/or providing condiments?  Washing menus after each use?  Those are tell tale signals that norovirus is an issue.

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You don't know the demographics of those who first became ill.  Were they on a specific tour?  You didn't visit the medical office for treatment?  You didn't self-quarantine?

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I was also on this cruise, and I'm sorry some people became ill.  No one in my party became ill, so we were thankful for that. I was appreciative of the fact that the crew became extra diligent concerning the washy washy. It would not have surprised me at all that people became sick from eating food from different excursions or off the ship restaurant sites. Food is prepared differently, under  different sanitary conditions, with different food ingredients, than what we are used to. 

I will be posting a review later of this cruise, had a wonderful time. 

Karen

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There seems to be a lot more noirovirus outbreaks ever since cutting back on single-use straws. 

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Posted (edited)

You can bet that at least once on every cruise  I have to dump a whole plate of food from the buffet

and go back for another because of some passenger's behavior. I had someone walk by me brushing my shoulder  and sneeze right onto my plate! Also  someone else right coming at me,  cough on to my plate, etc. Once it happened twice in a row.

Edited by Peachypooh

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If anyone knows anything further about this issue please post updates ASAP. I am sailing Saturday on the Bliss and I have developed a bit of a sensitive stomach over the past few years and any info you could provide would be appreciated. 

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, marktwothousand said:

If anyone knows anything further about this issue please post updates ASAP. I am sailing Saturday on the Bliss and I have developed a bit of a sensitive stomach over the past few years and any info you could provide would be appreciated. 

You may want to notify NCL of your sensitive stomach so that they don’t interpret your previous condition as noirovirus. You wouldn’t want to be confined to your cabin due to IBS just because the medical staff was lazy or busy.

 

Another big tip is to stay hydrated. Drink lots of water! If not, you will end up with a headache AND your upset stomach. They will definitely think you have noirovirus at that point. 

 

Other than that, follow basic sanitation protocol. You can even practice at home. I know what sounds silly, but it really helps. Think about the order of which you touch things while washing you hands, for example. Or when you open doors. Do you touch doorknobs after washing your hands? What about the faucet? Do you touch your face often, and if you do, do you make sure to sanitize again? All these things add up. It only takes a little bit of bad luck to catch the wrong germs, but a lot of work to minimize your bad luck.

 

Good luck!

Edited by slugg

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47 minutes ago, marktwothousand said:

If anyone knows anything further about this issue please post updates ASAP. I am sailing Saturday on the Bliss and I have developed a bit of a sensitive stomach over the past few years and any info you could provide would be appreciated. 

Elaborate what you mean by a sensitive stomach over the past few years? Do you mean you get norovirus type symptoms without actually being sick? Or are you worried that you’re easily susceptible to illness?

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4 minutes ago, tallnthensome said:

Elaborate what you mean by a sensitive stomach over the past few years? Do you mean you get norovirus type symptoms without actually being sick? Or are you worried that you’re easily susceptible to illness?

Hard to explain, I haven't been able to figure out what triggers it. Certain foods, or combinations of foods eaten together, will occasionally cause stomach ache, cramps and tenderness under the skin. Unfortunately its unpredictable and doctors have been able to isolate the cause.

 

If something Noro is going around, I'll be paranoid as to whether the cause is actually Noro, or just my typical uneasy "sensitive stomach" that I normally deal with. I usually do bring a thermometer on the cruise, plus lopermide, dephenhydramine, tylenol, pepto, anti-spasmodics, and pretty much anything for any eventuality, so its not like I am not prepared 🙂 but I would like to know what I might expect, than be surprised. So if I had no fever or vomiting, I probably wouldn't be too concerned, but I would be EXTRA-vigilant in noro situations...for example, maybe just skip the buffet entirely.

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2 hours ago, tallnthensome said:

I just got off the cruise with you. Indeed there was some tight lipped issues going on. As the captain said they believed the issues were related to the tours .... many of which were food based or had food served. Do we know that's the case? We don't..... We were also told that there were many crew members were out sick. Did you also notice that all the public restroom doors were propped open? They did that so nobody had to grab the door handles ......... 

 

I will also say this. I have never seen more sickening unsanitary behavior by passengers  then I did on this cruise. This cruise was a much older demographic due to the price and length of the cruise. I witnessed older guests not washing their hands after using the restroom, hence the door propping. The buffet ..... Oh man ..... the buffet. What a germ factory. I watched countless times people eating food off their plates while standing in line and over other food ..... To make that worse, I witnessed several finger lickers at the buffet that would lick their fingers while in line and then grab the food tongs ..... I couldn't believe it! So nasty! I watched people cough and sneeze right into their hands in the buffet then grab the tongs as well. Have people no brains or common sense anymore? These are the people that get and spread norovirus and then wonder why or how they got it or why there is an outbreak. The buffet was a germ factory and most of the people I saw doing these things were older. I don't know if their minds are slipping but it was just unreal and gross ....... The ship did a great job with sanitizers, washy washy, cleaning and counter measures ...... It was the negligence of the passengers that led to the spread, I guarantee that ......

I actually have noticed this same thing at the buffet from the older demographic on my last two cruises.  An elderly lady ate shrimp that was hanging off her plate, licked her fingers one by one, then proceeded to pick up a serving spoon. An NCL buffet worker witnessed it along with me and kindly asked her to wash her hands and offered to hold her plate. The lady refused , yelling at the NCL employee.  I know this behavior happens with people of all ages sometimes but age was noticable then. Whatever age, it is so selfish and unfair to put other passengers at risk of illness.

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Posted (edited)

I know NCL goes to great lengths to get people to wash their hands.  Sometimes passengers go out of their way, and around the personnel trying to get you to wash, and bypass the sanitary stations set up anywhere there is food.  It takes all of 20-30 seconds to do, yet some just won't.

 

I saw it in the Escape several weeks ago.  NCL is actually trying to make it an entertaining thing, having a crew member walk through the Garden Cafe singing little songs about sanitizing.

 

Regarding food eaten somewhere ashore, NCL can't do much about that, other than to insist people sanitize upon re-entering the ship (which they do).

 

As someone else noted, if there's any hint of Noro, you'll see a full court press by the staff to clean menus, stair rails, etc.  If you just have a little bit of a queazy stomach from food you ate ashore, you probably won't have the "noro" lockdown.

 

If you have stomach issues, and NCL staff find out, YOU WILL GET QUARANTINED.  Further, if you report any sort of stomach distress before boarding, you can be denied boarding (actually seen both things happen).

Edited by graphicguy

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Well, we witnessed first hand on the Escape this January during our 2 weeks on how NCL deployed mitigation measures ... sorry to hear about this, but this is more common than one realized, and not "exclusive" to NCL nor other cruiselines ... whenever folks are living/eating in close quarters and eating in fairly confined settings, doesn't take much for this contact illness to get passed around silently.  It was noted, with the introduction, that "some" of those that fell illed were crew members ... I have no idea if they ate ashore while off-duty on shore leaves or what.  Also learned (post-cruise) that the one of the ship's medical doctor her/himself also got hit by the stomach flu bug ... so much for best practices with infection control.

 

Barf bags were out, portable sanitizer dispensers at the elevators, hallways & corridors and stateroom doors & handles (including bathroom doors) wet wiped down with bleach solutions, etc. etc.  Single-use ??) paper menus for the MDR, guests' key cards getting cleansed when handled by crew, etc. 

 

It could be worse, at least they aren't distributing N-95 masks and latext gloves (we cruised during the SAR days then, old timers probably remember.)  Relax & go with the flow and be vigilant - we "survived" those 9 or 10 days ... and, was one of the grounds for not doing the towel animals & not refilling the ice buckets daily (except by special requests)  

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Posted (edited)

My reason for posting the original message was to show the absurdity of NCL to say it was caused by eating food onshore. If that were truly the case, they wouldn't have immediately put hand sanitizer dispensers in every elevator, offered free medical services to everyone who became ill from eating food onshore and propped all the doors of the public rest rooms open so nobody touched the handles. 

 

One other thing to note. When handing your card to the waiters and bartenders, none of them are wearing gloves or washing their hands each time they handle a card. Imagine the germs on their hands after handling numerous cards. Yuck. As stated previously, the actions of people in the buffet were exceedingly gross and disgusting (which pretty much describes the food in the buffet...not to mention cold).

Edited by schmoopie17

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Ewww. I didn’t even think about the access card thing. And what about those bottles of nuts on the bars? That’s another one.

 

Oh gosh, I’m really gonna watch out now. I know there’s only so much that’s within control, we can all sanitize only to a certain extent. There are certain things that aren’t within our control, like, you can’t control airborne droplets in food. On the other hand, we also don’t want to become too paranoid right? Washing your card every now and then might not be a bad idea, but I don’t think I’m gonna wipe it down every time it’s handed back to me, that would be getting carried away 😞

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3 hours ago, marktwothousand said:

Hard to explain, I haven't been able to figure out what triggers it. Certain foods, or combinations of foods eaten together, will occasionally cause stomach ache, cramps and tenderness under the skin. Unfortunately its unpredictable and doctors have been able to isolate the cause.

 

If something Noro is going around, I'll be paranoid as to whether the cause is actually Noro, or just my typical uneasy "sensitive stomach" that I normally deal with. I usually do bring a thermometer on the cruise, plus lopermide, dephenhydramine, tylenol, pepto, anti-spasmodics, and pretty much anything for any eventuality, so its not like I am not prepared 🙂 but I would like to know what I might expect, than be surprised. So if I had no fever or vomiting, I probably wouldn't be too concerned, but I would be EXTRA-vigilant in noro situations...for example, maybe just skip the buffet entirely.

 

I've had norovirus (NOT on a cruise ship) and trust me, you would KNOW...without gross details, nothing stays in you at all.  You live on the bathroom floor.  It's hideous.  It's vastly different from anything like IBS or sensitive stomach issues.

 

I'm also sailing the same week you are and agree that normal precautions make the most sense.  I've sailed on ships with active noro outbreaks and on ships that just got deep cleaned and were the first sailing after noro outbreaks.  Just wash hands often, don't touch your hands to your face (I actually use my knuckle to punch elevator buttons) and use common sense regarding buffets.

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37 minutes ago, schmoopie17 said:

absurdity of NCL to say it was caused by eating food onshore. If that were truly the case, they wouldn't have immediately put hand sanitizer dispensers in every elevator, offered free medical services to everyone who became ill from eating food onshore and propped all the doors of the public rest rooms open so nobody touched the handles. 

 

I'm not sure about that. I interpret it as reasonable caution until they are sure that, whatever it is, it isn't spreading aboard the ship. If they had concluded that it was norovirus, you would have seen a lot more effort: crew doing all the serving in the buffet, handrails sanitized many times a day, and so forth.

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3 hours ago, marktwothousand said:

Hard to explain, I haven't been able to figure out what triggers it. Certain foods, or combinations of foods eaten together, will occasionally cause stomach ache, cramps and tenderness under the skin. Unfortunately its unpredictable and doctors have been able to isolate the cause.

 

If something Noro is going around, I'll be paranoid as to whether the cause is actually Noro, or just my typical uneasy "sensitive stomach" that I normally deal with. I usually do bring a thermometer on the cruise, plus lopermide, dephenhydramine, tylenol, pepto, anti-spasmodics, and pretty much anything for any eventuality, so its not like I am not prepared 🙂 but I would like to know what I might expect, than be surprised. So if I had no fever or vomiting, I probably wouldn't be too concerned, but I would be EXTRA-vigilant in noro situations...for example, maybe just skip the buffet entirely.

I also have a sensitive stomach - took me years to figure out it's usually raw onions. I also travel with a tone of OTC meds + crackers (if meal to spicy or greasy) & nuts (or other portable protein, stomach doesn't like being empty).

I don't eat with my hands when I am traveling (unless I can wash my hand immediately before), don't eat at the buffet & I avoid the public restrooms as much as possible. Over 150 days on cruises & I haven't caught anything on board.

 

 

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Overall, all cruise lines are pretty "on point" about sanitation and keeping any sort of bacteria at bay, within reason.

 

It's next to impossible to avoid all areas of contamination, however.  

 

As others said, if there was a noro breakout, it will be quite obvious by the procedures that are implemented by the cruise lines.

 

Only been on one cruise (happened to be an NCL cruise, too) where noro was suspected for passengers becoming ill.  They were quarantined (and not happy about it).  Plus, as has been pointed out, crew will serve your food without exception, you'll see crew wiping down everything, nearly constantly.  You'll also see sickness bags put out.

 

OP....on your cruise it sounds like those who became ill went to the infirmary and medical staff determined the illness came from an establishment off the ship.  I wouldn't read any deeper into it than that.  All cruise lines are very, very cautious regarding any chance of noro being spread on a ship.

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27 minutes ago, kochleffel said:

 

I'm not sure about that. I interpret it as reasonable caution until they are sure that, whatever it is, it isn't spreading aboard the ship. If they had concluded that it was norovirus, you would have seen a lot more effort: crew doing all the serving in the buffet, handrails sanitized many times a day, and so forth.

 

So, you're saying that it's typical for a cruise line to make an announcement to the entire ship that if you ate something on shore that made you sick, they'll provide free medical care? 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, tallnthensome said:

I watched people cough and sneeze right into their hands in the buffet then grab the tongs as well. Have people no brains or common sense anymore?

They don't, I've seen the same things you have seen. Its usually younger kids and older adults. Their have been times I just wanted to ask the offenders what the heck are you thinking. However I've been told its not my place to scold people at the buffet

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On another cruise I had one lady in front of me, ladle out a portion of food onto her plate, bring it up to her face and sniff the food, then she dumped the food back into the buffet. That was just too much, I launched into her, she completely ignored me like she was totally deaf and that I wasn't saying a thing and just kept on doing her buffet lunch. I told the ship personnel standing there (no, they didn't say anything to the woman when I told them what happened) but did remove the tray.

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20 minutes ago, Laszlo said:

They don't, I've seen the same things you have seen. Its usually younger kids and older adults. Their have been times I just wanted to ask the offenders what the heck are you thinking. However I've been told its not my place to scold people at the buffet

Virgin Voyages is looking better and better every day!

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