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Illness on European River Cruises


Emma Chisit

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Tamiflu is available in Germany but on prescription only. And no doctor will prescribe it without any symptoms of a real influenza. So you won´t get it in Germany just in case for your travel pharmacy. Actually you won´t get it at all under normal circumstances even if you have a flu.

 

It´s the same like with antibiotics: If you´re using Tamiflu as sort of precaution med you risk that the viruses don´t react on it anymore. So in case it´s really needed it won´t work anymore.

 

steamboats

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Tamiflu should not be taken as a precaution, only when flu systoms appear. It is available in Australia but also only on prescription.

An interesting fact is that since the outbreak of the bird flu in the Asian countries the price of Tamiflu has doubled. I always include it as part of my medical kit when travelling but have only had to use it once when my daughter came down with the flu in Lapland.

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Hi to OceansandRivers. Some comments on your comments…

 

Flu vaccine. Here in Australia, people typically get their flu shots from their doctor in Autumn also. There is no vaccination campaign in supermarkets as in the US unfortunately. (I lived in the US for 17 years). Remember that, while this Northern Hemisphere cruise was in your summer, it is our winter Down Under. In the case of our cruise almost all the passengers were from Australia; the passengers on this ship who preceded us were from Australia also, and it is extremely likely that the flu virus on our cruise was also the Australian strain. Which was rife here in Australia this winter. (Elsewhere on these boards someone posted that on her river cruise the same flu was on board, and it was brought on board by an Australian woman.) So anyone who had the flu shots in Australia before travelling had a reasonable chance of not catching the virus possibly brought on board by their countrymen.

 

Antibiotics. My doctor always prescribes antibiotics when I travel in case of upper respiratory infections. The doctors who were called to the ill people on our cruise were also prescribing antibiotics. Do they help? Maybe. Of course antibiotics won’t cure the flu, but they might stop complications of a chest infection in its tracks. Those who took antibiotics seemed to get better faster. I travel a lot, and have caught the flu often while travelling, usually on the plane over. I never travelled with antibiotics in the past; but after being laid low a few times I started taking a course with me and it helped tremendously a couple of times. These days I seem to fend off the flu more easily; which I attribute to working on my immune system prior to travelling (using naturopathic remedies prescribed by my naturopath). Something which someone else recommended here also.

 

Other medications. Agree that if you are only travelling in Western Europe it is easy to get whatever medications you need. Instructions may not be in English however, even in these EU days. Many times in Europe I have bought over the counter remedies from pharmacists for sore throats and the like. In small towns there isn’t always an English-speaking pharmacist, or no common language we both speak.

However our cruise was from Amsterdam to Rousse, and then overland to Istanbul. In Eastern Europe and Turkey it was quite difficult sometimes to find over the counter remedies. Especially as we were often in small towns. We certainly were not able to find any eye drops in a small town in Turkey when we needed them, for example. It’s a trade-off between taking every possible remedy for anything which might ail you while travelling (and therefore having no room in your luggage for your clothes) and being selective.

And if I get sick in the middle of the night in a foreign country, even in Western Europe, I’m not going to be able to find an all-night drugstore, so it’s good to have some familiar remedy for a sore throat or whatever.

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The last time Tamiflu was "en vogue" was during the bird flu outbreak. And as far as I remember it did cost 90 EUR. But anyway there wasn´t anything available back then.

 

It is possible that when you have a virus infection you can get an additional bacterial infection. In that case the antibiotic will help (but only regarding the bacterial infection). This is usually the case when a virus infection lasts much longer than usual. Normally a virus infection should be over after a week or two. If it doesn´t get better then you got an additional bacterial infection.

 

What usually is named a flu is no real flu but a upper respiratory infection. In some cases it is caused by a virus in other cases it is caused by bacteria. You mainly can distinguish it by the color of the output of your coughing. If it´s more yellowish than it´s a virus. If it´s green it´s bacterial.

 

steamboats

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All,

 

I just got back from doing the Basel/Amsterdam run on the Viking Sun. We had 3 people in our party come down with a stomach virus that lasted about 15 hours. We heard about a few other passengers who had the same thing. Luckily the virus didn't stop anyone in our party from seeing the sights. You just never know when this may hit so just go, have fun and don't worry about something you really can't control. I wish you all a beautiful cruise.

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Hi Emma Chisit again

A comment on the flu vaccine and its usefulness for the Sound of Music Aug 2 bug-I got the bug badly on the ship but had been vaccinated in Australia in March ( I have had an annual flu shot for many years)- so either the bug was not covered by the vaccine (most likely) or it was an adenovirus or some other flu-like bug.

Cheers

Hannmorr

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  • 10 months later...

Just returned from a 15-day Budapest – Amsterdam Europe River Cruise on APT’s “Sound of Music”, 29 June – 13 July.

 

We booked this cruise in March before the swine flu outbreak. On 29 June, we flew from London on BA862 to Budapest. For the 2 hr 35 min flight time, this man sitting on the other window side of our row coughed and sneezed non-stop. He did not cover his mouth or nose. Yes, sadly he also did the same cruise with us.

 

He coughed over the food stations at breakfast and lunch buffets. He coughed at dinners each night with a different group of passengers because it was open seating. He coughed in the lounge, on the open deck and in tour bus. Within days other passengers started to cough and sneeze too. Half way through the cruise, we just couldn’t get away from the coughing and sneezing with at least 80% of passengers and a few waiters were sick. You should see the long queue of passengers at the pharmacies when the ship docked. BTW, the coughing man still coughed, a notch better, when the cruise ended in Amsterdam!

 

I suppose this could happen on any vacation, especially when people are in confined areas most of the time. However, after the swine flu outbreak at end of April this year, when we cruised with NCL, travelled with Qantas, Cathy Pacific and China Southern airlines (ah, not the BA862 flight from London to Budapest) we were required to fill in a health declaration form. This did not happen when we boarded the “Sound of Music” nor were there any propaganda e.g. reminder in the ship's daily newspaper or during the Cruise Director's briefings about washing/sanitizing hands and personal hygiene even when the majority of passengers were sick.

 

The cruise was wonderful. However, like the majority of passengers I also came down with a very bad cough half way through the cruise. I could not have enjoyed it and the remaining of our trip as much as I would have.

_____________________________________________

Celebrity Infinity, Aug 01, Alaska

Regal Princess, Dec 01, Australia/New Zealand

Superstar Virgo, Sep 02, Straits of Malacca/Singapore

Pacific Princess, Jan 03, S Pacific

Celebrity Infinity, May 03, Hawaii

Celebrity Infinity, June 03, Alaska

Star Princess, Jan 04, Australia/New Zealand

Pacific Princess, Jan 05, S Pacific

Norwegian Wind, Dec 05, Hawaii

Diamond Princess, Jan 06, Australia/New Zealand

Norwegian Star, Nov 06, Mexican Riviera

Norwegian Jewel, Nov 06, Eastern Caribbean

Sun Princess, Apr 08, Australia

Dawn Princess, Nov 08, S Pacific/Fiji

Diamond Princess, Dec 08, Australia/New Zealand

Norwegian Sun, Mar 09, South America B2B

APT’s “Sound of Music”, Jun 09, Budapest to Amsterdam

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Thanks for bringing this topic up. I hadn't been thinking in terms of possible illness while river cruising, but I am now reminded to take proactive measures in trying to avoid having our once-in-a-lifetime holiday ruined.

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Wow!! What a terrible experience for your river cruise. Did anyone go over to him and ask him to use tissues when he sneezed or coughed? I would have given him something to use and suggest he see a doctor. I know it is a difficult thing, but our vacations do cost money and why have someone ruin your cruises. I tend to get bronchitis when I travel and always bring an anti-biotic and cough medicine with me. I love the ships that serve you in the buffet with plastic gloves so no one touches the food handles. Our last cruise had anti-viral machines at every entrance to dining areas. They had someone sitting there to make sure you used them.

 

Sheila

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Filling out those forms is nice but does it really help to avoid any kind of illnesses aboard? Hey, what would you do if you´re having a cold? Would you fill in the form correctly and risk that they don´t let you aboard a ship you´ve paid lots of money for? I assume most of the passengers would lie. Those forms are not worth the paper they are printed on.

 

If that person doesn´t have enough common sense to protect others the only thing you can do is either to take your own precautions not to get infected or talk to the ship´s staff and complain about that kind of behavior. Maybe it would have helped to buy a cover for mouth and nose and hand it out to him!

 

Also the hand sanitizers are not worth the money. They usually are antibacterial only. For antiviral you need stronger stuff. And flu or noro are viruses. And even with the stronger stuff you have at least to keep it on your hands for 30 seconds.

 

Unfortunately there is no cure for stupidity!

 

steamboats

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The cruise was wonderful. However, like the majority of passengers I also came down with a very bad cough half way through the cruise. I could not have enjoyed it and the remaining of our trip as much as I would have.

_____________________________________________

 

Hi itil4get09, I was the OP for this thread, following a “Sound of Music” cruise last year. Glad to hear you enjoyed this fascinating cruise, as we did too. Sorry your cruise was adversely affected by someone’s selfishness in not observing sanitary precautions, and thereby spreading the flu bug. As we now have Swine Flu, with healthy people dying from the infection, it’s more than mere selfishness of one unhygienic person spoiling the cruise for others. Now it is literally a matter of life and death. It’s hard to know what to do if the ship’s authorities are reluctant to speak to someone who doesn’t have the courtesy to cover their sneezes. I’m afraid I agree with Steamboats, many people won’t report illness for fear of missing their cruise, so the rest of us have to take all preventative measures.

 

We are off on a 30 day ocean cruise soon, right into the Northern Hemisphere in the teeth of the flu season. Our ship will have thousands on it, and hopefully more places to escape from anyone coughing than the more cramped quarters of a riverboat like Sound of Music ….though more potential flu carriers too! We are working on our immune systems, but also plan to carry medical supplies, sanitizer gel, new pillow – and wipe the cabin down with Clorox wipes when we board. And sing Happy Birthday twice while washing hands! The nurse at my doctor’s surgery swears by Olive Leaf Extract to avoid the flu. Can’t hurt, have added that to the medical kit. Only problem is, with all this stuff, now there is no room for clothes......

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pjtraveler – the China Southern Airline took our temperatures before we boarded the plane for China. At the Hong Kong Airport, besides thermo detecting machines, free face masks were available and info pamphlets were handed out as measures to help control the spreading of swine flu.

 

swardyvr – Glad that you’ve found this topic helpful. Sincerely hope you and others would not have to go through what we had gone through.

 

shoshona2 – I must admit we only avoided “the coughing man” throughout the whole cruise. We kept at least a meter or two away from him, not that it had helped! Come to think of it, he and his wife were the only two out of 115 passengers we didn’t talk to!

 

steamboats – 100% agree with you. There is no cure for stupidity - this “coughing man”! However, the health declaration forms might not worth the paper they’re printed on. If passengers were required to complete one, at least this “coughing man” would either have to lie or be honest. Perhaps flight attendants on British Airways should have done what some airlines are doing, i.e. to report him to the local health authorities?

 

Emma Chisit - There are no easy answers as to what and if the cruise ship could do more or a better job of preventing/containing these infections. One can only take that much proactive measures to avoid getting sick or that much medicines whilst travelling. Will this incident stop us from travelling? Of course not. All the best for your upcoming 30-day ocean cruise.

 

Thank you all for your responses.

_____________________________________________

Celebrity Infinity, Aug 01, Alaska

Regal Princess, Dec 01, Australia/New Zealand

Superstar Virgo, Sep 02, Straits of Malacca/Singapore

Pacific Princess, Jan 03, S Pacific

Celebrity Infinity, May 03, Hawaii

Celebrity Infinity, June 03, Alaska

Star Princess, Jan 04, Australia/New Zealand

Pacific Princess, Jan 05, S Pacific

Norwegian Wind, Dec 05, Hawaii

Diamond Princess, Jan 06, Australia/New Zealand

Norwegian Star, Nov 06, Mexican Riviera

Norwegian Jewel, Nov 06, Eastern Caribbean

Sun Princess, Apr 08, Australia

Dawn Princess, Nov 08, S Pacific/Fiji

Diamond Princess, Dec 08, Australia/New Zealand

Norwegian Sun, Mar 09, South America B2B

APT’s “Sound of Music”, Jun 09, Budapest to Amsterdam

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although this is an old post (2008), it does remind me of a cruise to the Baltic Capitols about 10 years ago when I got sick and needed cough medicine in Helsinki. We went into a pharmacy and I had NO CLUE where to even start looking for Robitussin or something similar. The clerk was able to help me but then the instructions were all in a foreign language so I had to ask someone to interpret the instructions for me! From that point on, I packed my own cough/cold meds (as well as antibiotics). I also bring a few "throat comfort" tea bags which really make a nice cup of tea if your throat hurts!

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I asked the question of Avalon: "I'd like to know what precautions are taken to guard against illness such as H1N1 flu, norovirus and other like-illnesses aboard your ships. We are scheduled to be on the Tapestry from Budapest and want to ensure Avalon measures up to CDC like requirements to ensure its passengers good health as much as possible."

 

Globus' reply was much weaker than I expected: "Thank you for contacting the Globus family of brands. The safety and security of our clients is our first priority. In addition to monitoring news from normal government and media sources, we have 37 offices and hundreds of Tour Directors around the world to keep us up to date on any situation. Anti-bacterial hand wash machines have been placed on all of our ships at the entrances to the ships, the restaurants, and the lounges. Passengers will be encouraged to wash their hands often. The crew members of Avalon Waterways will assist any person showing flu-like symptoms with getting medical attention immediately. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Best regards"

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From that point on, I packed my own cough/cold meds (as well as antibiotics). I also bring a few "throat comfort" tea bags which really make a nice cup of tea if your throat hurts!

 

Globus' reply was much weaker than I expected: ""

 

Not very impressive, the response from Globus. As I said back in post #1, it seems the river cruise ships are more casual about preventative measures than ocean going vessels. The CDC recommends doing away with self serve buffets when there is illness on board, but it didn't happen on the ship we were on. Although to be fair, they are probably talking Norovirus. However, when many passengers and crew have the flu, commonsense would seem to indicate the same precaution. And the flu now can be deadly.

 

Also I think that because they turn the ships around so fast the germs linger. Hence for me, the wiping down of surfaces, taking own pillow etc. And, while someone last year said there was no need to take your own flu meds to Europe because you could buy them everywhere, I disagree. From experience, on lots of trips to Europe it wasn’t always easy to find what you need; and last year, in Eastern Europe, it was very difficult indeed. So I always pack my own meds.

But, like the poster who revived this thread, it won't stop me travelling either.(Thanks for the good wishes for our next trip, itil4get09. :))

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Globus' reply was much weaker than I expected: "Thank you for contacting the Globus family of brands. The safety and security of our clients is our first priority. In addition to monitoring news from normal government and media sources, we have 37 offices and hundreds of Tour Directors around the world to keep us up to date on any situation. Anti-bacterial hand wash machines have been placed on all of our ships at the entrances to the ships, the restaurants, and the lounges. Passengers will be encouraged to wash their hands often. The crew members of Avalon Waterways will assist any person showing flu-like symptoms with getting medical attention immediately. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Best regards"

 

At least they do admit that the hand sanitizers are only anti-bacterial and not anti-viral. So they definitely don´t help against flu or noro viruses :eek:!

 

steamboats

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