My husband and I just got home from a 12 day cruise down the Rhine/Mosel Rivers on the River Queen. We departed from Amsterdam and were looking forward to a relaxing cruise. The mix on board ship was 50% American, 40% Brits, and the balance English speaking guests from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It was a great group of cruisers with about 75% representing first time River Cruisers.
The staff was pleasant, the ship fine other than they could have redecorated in more cheerful colors rather than the dark browns in every area of the ship, including the staterooms.
The food was average in our opinion, but as Americans I think we tended to want fresher, healthier foods rather than the cream laden cuisine typically served on board the River Queen.
There were no sanitary precautions on the ship or any instructions given upon boarding how to handle any illness that may have arisen on the ship during the cruise. This was interesting since 99% of us were retired and at last footloose and fancy free to pursue our dreams of travel.
On the third day of the cruise I came down with what I thought was just something that had disagreed with my stomach. Day one I was just feeling "off" by day two I was vomiting and had diarrhea. Day three I was feeling better but still queasy and no appetite. On the second day of feeling ill I went to the Hotel Manager to let him know I needed a doctor. He said that they could get me to one the following day afternoon and gave me a bottle of liquid hand sanitizer and asked me to use it whenever I went to the dining room.
Within three days 60% of the cruisers were down and out. They held a short meeting for the passengers and said that there was a illness on board that they wanted to announce.
Within two more days I would estimated 80% of the passengers and 50% of the crew had been hit. There was never a doctor brought on board to examine any of the passengers and the River Queen installed a program where we had our hands sprayed as we got on and off the boat as well as at the dining room. A little too late in our opinion. There was never any consideration given to the sick passengers other than the request to stay in your room for 3 days and they would bring soup if you so desired.
Since the River Queen is traveling through the EU I have no idea what the health standards are for this kind of on board wide-spread virus.
It may sound gross, but I was so sick I had both ends going at once. The bathrooms are very tiny with a toilet, single sink and shower. I used the toilet and the sink to accommodate my double whammy most of the two days I was sick. The vomit from the sink went down the sink drain and into the shower stall... absolutely appalling. They just send in the housekeeper to "sanitize" the bathroom. Where it went from there I have no idea.
I had wondered whether there was a virus on board when we got to our cabin in that there was a horrible odor our room which I just overlooked.
I think that Unniworld has not prepared the staff for such an outbreak. We got off the ship at the end of our cruise at 8:30 AM and the crew was preparing the rooms for another group of travelers boarding in Basel, Switzerland for the cruise departing to Amsterdam that afternoon.
We have been home for 2 days and I still have not felt 100%. We have traveled all over the world to such places as Africa, the Amazon, Asia and have never gotten struck with this kind of illness.
Luckily I had a script for Cipro from my state-side doctor who told us to always take it in the event we get sick overseas. Most people had nothing, not even OTC medication to ease their nausea after three days. The Hotel Manager informed us that in the EU they are not allowed to dispense any kind of medication on board, but they could take you to see a doctor. Several people were so sick they did this and wound up with being issued medication to take and a whopping medical bill to pay.
I'd be interested whether there was a viral infection on board the previous cruise and the cruise that followed ours.
Not a word from Uniworld on the outbreak and to the best of my knowledge the ship has not been thoroughly sanitized other than the use of standard cleaning and hand spraying down the guests.
Also, as a side note, two passengers had their passports disappear and another their birth certificate after they boarded the River Queen. By the time of disembarking the ship, they had never been found. The Hotel Manager never really seemed too concerned but the passengers, of course, were out-raged.