My fiancé and I booked a cruise on the Caribbean Princess from November 24 thru November 29, 2014. Since I had never cruised before, and she had cruised upwards of 30 times and had reached Platinum level benefits, she advised me about ... Read More
My fiancé and I booked a cruise on the Caribbean Princess from November 24 thru November 29, 2014. Since I had never cruised before, and she had cruised upwards of 30 times and had reached Platinum level benefits, she advised me about what to expect on a cruise. One of the things she could not stress enough was to wash my hands, wash my hands, and wash my hands. Additionally, she told me there would be Purell anti-bacterial stations all over the ship and highly suggested I use them as often as possible.
We boarded the Caribbean Princess early afternoon on Monday November 24th and as we approached the Horizon Court a little while later, I did see Purell stations in the dining areas. They were located on the dining room walls as well as the entrances and exits of the buffets lines. The entrance lines to the buffets had a ship employee standing by the Purell stations as a reminder to use them, however, it was not communicated as a must. Nevertheless, I always took advantage of using the Purell at every opportunity I had.
As the first day became the second and the trip continued, I started to observe things that I initially tried to overlook like the yellow staining on the bottom of the toilet seat in our stateroom. As a man, I always put the seat up when I urinate. Therefore I immediately noticed this stain and pointed it out to Tracy. We tried our best to put it out of our mind, along with the cracking of the caulking around our stateroom’s sink and what strongly appeared to be black mildew in the cracking caulk. If a toilet seat is yellow stained, especially near the front of the seat, it is not something that just occurred, but has been building up for some time. The same goes for black mildew on caulk.
Wednesday, November 26th we arrived at Costa Maya. We brought ashore bottles of water from the ship so as not to drink the local beverages for fear of “Montezuma Revenge” or Traveler’s Diarrhea. We consumed no local drinks nor food. We made a quick tour of the gift shops and stopped briefly to watch tourists interact with a dolphin encounter.
Once back on the ship, the excitement of my first cruise started to wear off as I began to notice sanitary issues more. In the men’s room on Deck 15 between the two pools I took a closer look at the cleanliness of the bathroom. Both side walls had some chips of caulk missing, however, the main “mirrored” wall had all the caulking missing. Where this main wall ran down and met up to the counter, you could easily see inside the gap of the missing caulking. In this gap was a greenish color. It was not a shadow, nor was it green paint. It appeared to be mold, algae, or mildew. Trying to not think about it, I washed my hands thoroughly and exited this bathroom. There were no Purell stations to use.
That same evening of the 26th, there was a deck party that ran until 10:00 pm. Tracy and I stayed on the lounge chairs after the party until a little after 11:00 pm enjoying the beautiful outside weather. We then headed to the restrooms. I used the same restroom previously mentioned that had the missing caulk. However, the restroom was now in shambles. Soap, water and paper towels were all over the counters. The floor had numerous dried and wet paper towels and was very slippery wet. The garbage holder on the wall was running over. I looked at the cleaning chart at saw the last cleaning was at 17:20 and it was now after 11:00 pm or 23:00. The bathroom had not been checked for nearly 4 hours at that point. I was grossed out as it reminded me of a road side gas station restroom.
We headed back to our stateroom and watched some movies on our laptop well into the night. We went to sleep just before 4 am, now Thanksgiving morning, November 27th. Tracy got up a few minutes later to use the restroom and she called out to me from the bathroom for some Tums. I entered the restroom to find Tracy on the floor hugging the toilet. She said she had severe nausea. She stated she had never had sea sickness in the nearly 30 times she sailed on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, and other lines. There were no other symptoms at this time. For the next three and half hours, she spent her time between the toilet and the bed, with most of that time in the restroom dry heaving as we waited for the Medical Center to open.
At about 8:30 when the medical center opened, I called and spoke to Medical and the nurse, Estelle, told me that it sounded like motion sickness and that I should go to Customer Service and get meds from them. I let her know that my fiancé could not stop dry-heaving and if she swallowed anything, it would come back up. I asked if someone could come up to our stateroom to help her get to medical. I explained that she was very weak from dry-heaving and we didn’t want to alarm the other passengers when she tried to walk to the clinic. They refused to come up to the room to help her down so I half carried her to the medical center.
We made our way to Medical as passengers watched her almost get sick on the elevator as she shuffled to Medical. Her face was white as a ghost and as passengers looked on at us, I told them she would be ok. Once in medical, we met Nurse Estelle and Dr. Brian. Estelle insisted it was motion sickness based on the symptoms and the lack of any diarrhea. Tracy was administered an IV and was given medicine to stop the nausea, and medicine to stop the spasm of the dry heaves. Dr. Brian placed his hands on Tracy’s stomach in the usual spots to check for appendix issues, etc. Neither the doctor nor nurse ever listened to her stomach area with a stethoscope. They took a number of tests involving her urine and blood but everything came back within normal range. We were sent on our way and were advised to come back in the afternoon when they were open again for a follow-up. She was taken back to her room in a wheelchair.
We came back to Medical in the afternoon. Her nausea had come back and she was extremely weak and tired. She was barely cohesive. She was able to advise Dr. Brian that she had a bit of diarrhea earlier in the afternoon but was no examination performed on her lower intestine to hear any rumblings, etc. Dr. Brian and Nurse Estelle had left the room briefly and Tracy was laying down motionless on the exam bed as I sat in a chair next to her. A few minutes later Tracy said to me that she just had an accident, meaning she just had diarrhea and that she wanted a nurse to assist. I left the room and advised the first nurse I saw that Tracy needed assistance ASAP. I walked back into the room and advised Tracy that a nurse was coming. I said I would go to the stateroom to get her some fresh clothes.
Upon returning to Medical, I found Tracy in the restroom of the exam room sitting on the toilet in tears and pain. She cried “they just left me”. She said she had been sitting on the toilet since I left the room and no one came back to assist or check on her.
She couldn’t get up from the toilet as her bottom was messed. She wanted a wash cloth and a towel or the use of the shower next to her. Estelle came in the exam room and told Tracy she had the Norovirus and they could not assist in cleaning her up as they did not want to take a chance of any of them getting infected. We were told they did not have any cleaning supplies and that she could not use the shower although it was no more than inches from where Tracy sat on the toilet. They only had an anti-bacterial medical soap and rough brown paper towels in the restroom but they advised her not to use them as they would end up burning her because she was raw.
Tracy ended up using her own clothes to clean herself up with no available soap to cleanse nor towels to dry off. Tracy had to put her own soiled clothes in a bright orange BIO Hazard bag. She was given oral anti-diarrhea meds and oral vomiting meds to take back to the room and they discharged her and quarantined her to her room.
We were advised that the “HEAT” Team would have to sanitize the exam room and she was once again taken back to her room in a wheel chair, this time too weak to even stand up on her own. We were told to give the BIO bag to the HEAT team and that they would arrange to have her clothes cleaned. I had to carry the BIO Hazard bag back to the room and I hid the bag under my jacket so as to not alarm the other passengers.
Once back at the room, Tracy cleaned herself up in the bathroom and crawled into bed. About 10 minutes later, two men from the HEAT team came to the room to clean it. One person came in wearing grayish blue maintenance type clothes and wore a white face mask with a mini respirator attached to the front of it, he also had blue gloves and wore a short sleeve shirt. He carried a cleaning cloth and a bottle of some liquid spray. His partner stayed outside the stateroom, with no mask. The “decontamination” consisted of the person in the room spraying a cloth with whatever was in the bottle. He then took the cloth and wiped down areas where he thought Tracy might have touched. Part of a wall here, part of a wall there. If there were things on our night stands, or on our “desk”, he simply wiped the surfaces around it. There was no wiping of personal belongings, no moving things out of the way, etc. I observed the same type of cleaning in the bathroom. In the bathroom, he replaced only the linen that appeared to be used. As instructed by Estelle I gave him the orange BIO bag that contained Tracy’s soiled clothes so they could be cleaned. The man “sanitizing” the room said he would be back in the morning to change the linens.
I washed my hands thoroughly and proceeded to have a very lonely and sad Thanksgiving dinner upstairs. The rest of Thanksgiving Day consisted of Tracy lying in bed and slowly recovering. I would leave the room from time to time and walk the ship and come back to check on her.
The morning of Friday, November 27th, Tracy was feeling a little better, but still very tired, weak and extremely sore in her stomach and lower back. A little after 9 am the HEAT team came back. One man proceeded to spray the cloth and wipe down only exposed surfaces as the man had done the day before. Tracy was able to sit up and stand briefly and she told me she had to specifically ask the man for a new Duvet cover as he was only going to change the sheets and pillow cases. The man did not change the Duvet itself nor the pillows, even after being asked to do so to prevent any illness from spreading.
By 6:30 Friday evening, Tracy and I walked around the ship a bit to see if we could get her strength up and we decided to go to the evening show. After the show, we exited the Princess Theater and headed toward the casino to cut through and head back to the stateroom. Tracy advised me that she needed to use the restroom. So she used the one off the hall between the theater and the casino.
After a bit of time, she came out, frustrated and almost in tears. She told me there were 4 soap dispensers in there, 3 out of the 4 were empty, and the other had little soap in it. She further said that she watched passengers try each dispenser, some giving up and never using any soap. She looked at the last time the room was checked by staff, and it was only 20 minutes earlier. She wondered out loud to me how in 20 minutes time, 4 dispensers would go empty, when the theater just let out less than 5 minutes earlier. The only conclusion we could come up with is that the cleaning person who checked the bathroom last might not have been honest in their signing off that they cleaned it.
Tracy said she wanted to see customer service right then. With all the sanitary issues we had seen on the ship, we concluded it is no wonder she caught the Norovirus. We went directly to Passenger Services. The line was long as this was the night before we arrived back in Fort Lauderdale. However, there was a staff member on the far left of the counter assisting someone. We politely excused ourselves and asked to speak to a manager. The staff member refused to get a manager and told us we needed to wait in line (of about 15 people) and someone would be with us “shortly.” I advised this person that there was a health issue in the restroom. The staff member seemed like he was going to repeat his statement to wait in line when Tracy advised him about having caught the Norovirus due to the lack of cleanliness on the ship. Everyone around us started to quickly leave the area and the staff member finally went back to get a manager.
A few minutes later, Clyde, the Duty Agent, met us. He took us aside and started to take notes while Tracy explained the entire situation to him. Clyde was sympathetic to our concerns and apologetic, advising us that we could "dispute" the almost $1000 medical bill if we wanted to. By this time it was late Friday evening. Her soiled clothes which were sent out to be cleaned still hadn’t shown up. The crew said they would continue to look for them but they were never found and Tracy had to leave the ship without them.
Tracy has traveled extensively on Princess including multiple trips to Alaska, the Baltic, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean and has never had an experience like this before. Even transatlantic crossings on Cunard and re-positioning cruises of 18 days had all gone smoothly. To this date the problem has still not been resolved to our satisfaction. We have reached out by phone, email, and mail and have received no response from Princess. We were told we would be contacted by Princess after the cruise and that never happened. Tracy’s clothing was never found, and no one has addressed the cleanliness issues on the ship including running out of soap in the restrooms and what appeared to be mold all over the ship. We have pictures to support these statements including a video showing there was no soap in the bathroom dispensers and the time sheet showing it had been cleaned 20 minutes prior with the signature of the person who cleaned it.
I strongly urge anyone who decides to travel on the Caribbean Princess to watch for cleanliness issues and do everything possible to protect yourself from illness as my experience was not a pleasant one and I'd hate for you to experience the same thing I went through. Read Less