QE2 Is on the Mend

January 25, 2007

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2, which experienced a significant gastrointestinal outbreak last week, appears to be on the mend. Just six passengers and no crewmembers are feeling the effects onboard the ship, which departed from San Francisco last night and is en route to Hawaii and the South Pacific. QE2 is on the second leg of its 2007 world cruise.

As we reported last week, the outbreak, at its peak, was suffered by 16 percent of the ship's 1,652 passengers and 2.7 percent of its 1,002 crewmembers (ships are required to report illness to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when it infects three percent, so it was a pretty mighty bug). It started to spread shortly after the vessel departed from Southampton, on its way to New York, Ft. Lauderdale and a Panama Canal transit. When QE2 arrived in Acapulco, CDC inspectors boarded and stayed on the ship until it arrived in Los Angeles.

Numerous extra sanitation efforts were put in place, including paper menus in the dining rooms (which are destroyed after use), buffets in which crewmembers serve passengers, and regular disinfection of high-touch surface areas like railings, door handles, elevator buttons -- multiple times a day.

As well, when the ship called at Los Angeles, all passengers were required to go ashore -- so the ship could be cleaned top to bottom (Cunard offered complimentary day-long tours). Beyond that, reports Cruise Critic member Anteeta, who is currently onboard the ship, there is no salt and pepper service, passengers are required to order their entire meal at once so there's no need to exchange menus, and there's "no self serve anything."

According to messages from members on Cruise Critic's Cunard forum, most passengers seemed to take the outbreak in stride. It hasn't dissuaded folks booked on later legs of the world cruise, either, if BMW Lover's situation is any indication. "We will not have to worry about it as Cunard called yesterday at 4 p.m., just as we were finishing our packing to leave Toronto for San Francisco," he posted. "They advised the ship is oversold and needed our cabin so we were being bumped off the QE2 San Francisco to Sydney. A generous offer of settlement was agreed to after some lengthy negotiations."

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor