Re NORWEGIAN SUN depart San Antonio (Santiago) 17 Feb 2018 heading to Miami.
(Departure port was changed from Valparaiso to San Antonio shortly before the cruise)
On arrival in our Cabin we were told that:
• There was an outbreak of Acute Gastro Enteritis (AGE) / Norovirus on board
• There was Maintenance planned during the cruise.
We had not received any advice by email, text or phone before boarding despite the AGE having occurred 10 days earlier and the maintenance planned for some time.
The ship was effectively in ‘lock down’ to try and eliminate further cases of AGE.
There was mandatory hand disinfectant at the entry to all restaurants, the theatre, lifts, staircases, etc. There was no self service in any restaurant. The cramped Garden Café was intolerably busy with all the food stations shrouded in plastic and the drink stations closed. The crew served everything required by passengers – creating long queues and crowded areas.
In the Main Dining Rooms the paper menus were destroyed after each use and the menu covers disinfected before use by the next passenger!
The food was dull and uninteresting - I suspect certain products were avoided to reduce the infection risk.
In the Cabins there were no magazines, no ice and no glasses. The cabins were fumigated on at least two occasions during the cruise and smelt terrible.
All deck sports were initially cancelled and then slowly introduced under strict supervision and disinfection of gold club handles and shuffleboard pushers between players.
The Library and Card room was closed throughout the cruise due the risk of an infected person having touched a book. Apparently Norovirus cells can live for and incredible 14 days.
Conversely the Casino (which makes money for NCL) was fully operational throughout the cruise with no hand disinfection at the entrances and no washing down the handles of the slot machines between players. Seemed very contradictory. Smoking was permitted in this Casino and it smelt terrible – the stale smoke wafting throughout deck 7 at times. How does NCL think they will be protected from claims by the Casino Staff that they have developed lung cancer from passive inhaling the smoke?
There were no announcements during the cruise about the number of passengers or crew infected.
The captain was ‘invisible’ throughout the cruise appearing only on the last day at a Q&A session. At this Q&A it was announced that 81 passengers (out of around 1950) had been infected. There was no mention of the number of crew infected – I suspect it was a much higher figure. There was a severe shortage of crew apparent especially in the waiting and bar staff – 20 minute waits to be served at a bar and over 30 minutes in the MDR on several occasions.
The Maintenance was required to prepare the ship before scheduled dry docking in Vancouver in a month or so time. Around a quarter of the upper deck (Deck 12/13) was out of use at a time on a rolling programme. There were no announcements in ‘Freestyle’ regarding these areas. Parts of the Promenade Deck 6 were also closed. It became impossible to walk around the ship without meeting a blockage. There was no co-ordination between this maintenance and the sports activities announced in Freestyle – the latter were often cancelled because the deck was inaccessible.
We will remember this experience as the 'washy-washy' cruise - the light hearted phrase used by all the restaurant door crew when trying to overcome a serious outbreak of Norovirus.
We were not told what was being squirted on our hands 10 times a day, nor what chemicals were used for fumigating the cabins - there were many passengers who appeared to develop a dry asthmatic cough after the fumigations.
The final blow was a disastrously slow disembarkation at Miami. After arriving 3 hours earlier than scheduled, disembarkation started a couple of hours later than scheduled and took 2 hours to get off the ship - unacceptable.
Thank goodness we visited some great ports and locations and this made up a little for the poor on-board experience.
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