It would be an understatement to say in the weeks preceding April 5, 2014 my wife and I were excited. After saving up vacation days and money we booked a 7-day cruise departing out of Los Angeles, CA. What we hoped would be a relaxing and refreshing break ended up causing stress as the ship had an outbreak of a gastrointestinal virus.
We had sailed before on Princess Cruise line and were extremely pleased with our previous experience. The ship was clean and well staffed. Our servers and house keeping crew were outstanding. Personable and considerate people made our voyage such a memorable experience we decided to cruise solely with Princess.
As we searched through the cruises we found a weeklong cruise out of Los Angeles. The ship would visit San Francisco, Santa Barbra, San Diego, and Ensenada. Our itinerary consisted of visiting Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Warf, Forbes Island restaurant, wine tasting at Oreana, and anything adventurous we would find along the way.
As we checked in a stack of letters circulating around the cruise terminal was a harbinger of impending trouble. An announcement over the loud speaker informed us the ship would board late. The letters further explained the ship was responding to what laboratory test would later determine to be norovirus.
According to the Center for Disease Control, “Norovirus is a very contagious virus. You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.”
Several hundred people from all walks of life were packed in the terminal trying to be excited while thinking about a ship carrying an unwanted passenger. After running an hour behind schedule the crowd became restless. Most of the staff inside were helpful initially. By the time we were over an hour behind schedule some started barking orders and treating us rudely.
Once on the ship we began to feel as if we were in a quarantined hospital. Many of the staff tried to make us feel like we were on vacation. Others approached us with somewhat of a hesitation and almost paranoid fear of sickness. Buckets of disinfectant were left throughout the ship. The crew was constantly scrubbing down surfaces such as handrails in elevators and stairs. We started to avoid touching these so our hands wouldn’t be covered in disinfectant.
All the restaurants on this ship enforced the use of hand sanitizer before entering. It was almost comical to see the lead server spraying hands with Purell as we entered the fine dinning area. Several dozen people were confirmed to have the virus after reporting to the medical office.
Each day the Captain briefs the ship over the loud speaker on the status of the virus. It continues to spread and more people are becoming worried. Over 37 people already have been confirmed as being infected. Passengers are clearly concerned. The talk around dinner tables and poolside seem to never be without mention of the virus and the way the crew is behaving.
It is now April 10, 2014 and we have a few days left. Many of the crew has acted bothered by the passengers. Even the simplest requests such as asking for a cup of coffee are often met with sighs or rude responses. At several ports reporters asking about the virus have greeted us.
With a few days left we can only hope the crew perks up and the virus is contained. This incident has been an eye opener for my wife and I. We certainly can understand the virus but the manner in which the crew responded to it in general has been subpar. The lack of professionalism has definitely made us rethink taking to the open seas anytime soon with Princess.