Holland West Coast (including Noordam) plagued with Norovirus

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#1
Cairns & Chicago
14 Posts
Joined Aug 2014
We are currently on the Noordam northbound from Vancouver, ending at Sitka (Anchorage) tomorrow, August 5.


This will be the third cruise in a row that the Noordam has had a huge Norovirus outbreak. The medical officer on this cruise refuses to confirm how many cases are on this current cruise.


Prior to the start of our cruise in Vancouver, we were sent an email by Holland telling us that our check-in would be delayed while they “super disinfected” the ship. This obviously didn’t work very well.


When we were checking in at Vancouver, the check-in clerk (a part-time, non-Holland employee) mentioned that the boarding was delayed due to “a couple cases of illness on the previous cruise”. I asked her who told her to say this, and she said they were briefed that day by someone from Holland.


The previous cruise has 142 reported cases! With the real number likely to be higher.


I came down with the illness overnight after leaving Skagway. I went down to medical to report my illness, and Holland wanted $95 for me to see the doctor. As there is no medication to treat Norovirus, I demurred from seeing the doctor. They told me that the only reports they take are after seeing the doctor. This is borderline fraud.


The CDC will at some point have a report about the number of cases on this cruise. But there’s clearly something systemic currently wrong on this ship. We’re previous cruisers on HAL in Europe, and we were surprised at the much different demographic on this cruise. The Lido Deck is generally jammed with cruisers while the dining rooms have been relatively empty. And there are lots of kids - and with the way children are let to run wild these days, it perhaps is part of the problem.


I’ve also found the last CDC inspection of this ship in April 2017, with a low score and NO remediation plan submitted by Holland.


I’ll have more to say after the cruise ends.
#2
Kent, Ohio
1,604 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
We were on the June 25 southbound cruise on the Noordam with our two 12yo grandsons. We had a completely different experience. There were a fair number of children (kids loved club HAL) but they never seemed to be running wild and unattended. Not sure what the Lido looked like at dinner,but the MDR was always full and the kids all seemed to be dressed approprietly. Better than some of the adults actually.
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#3
City of Angels, CA
28,430 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by ChicagoDude
We are currently on the Noordam northbound from Vancouver, ending at Sitka (Anchorage) tomorrow, August 5.

.....................................
Seward
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#4
Tucson
145 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
I was on the Oosterdam about 10 moths ago for 26 days. Seemed like the sickness was about 50% althougt HAL stated only a few hundred. This was my fourth HAL cruise, three previous with no sickness. The only difference that I noted was that previously HAL would not let you into the food on the Lido for the first 48 hours. This cruise we / they were into the food in the first hour.Then the sickness and 26 days of watching staff polish brass.

So my question, "Are they still letting passengers into the food right away ?" If so, I think that is BAD !

Many people have different sanitary habits. A newly sick person will get sick right away.Keep them out of the food. Many sick people don't recognize it and continue wander the ship.

Just looking at a 30 day cruise and hopping for NOT 30 days of sickness.
#5
Albuquerque, New Mexico
12,667 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Originally posted by ChicagoDude
We are currently on the Noordam northbound from Vancouver, ending at Sitka (Anchorage) tomorrow, August 5.


This will be the third cruise in a row that the Noordam has had a huge Norovirus outbreak. The medical officer on this cruise refuses to confirm how many cases are on this current cruise.


Prior to the start of our cruise in Vancouver, we were sent an email by Holland telling us that our check-in would be delayed while they “super disinfected” the ship. This obviously didn’t work very well.


When we were checking in at Vancouver, the check-in clerk (a part-time, non-Holland employee) mentioned that the boarding was delayed due to “a couple cases of illness on the previous cruise”. I asked her who told her to say this, and she said they were briefed that day by someone from Holland.


The previous cruise has 142 reported cases! With the real number likely to be higher.


I came down with the illness overnight after leaving Skagway. I went down to medical to report my illness, and Holland wanted $95 for me to see the doctor. As there is no medication to treat Norovirus, I demurred from seeing the doctor. They told me that the only reports they take are after seeing the doctor. This is borderline fraud.


The CDC will at some point have a report about the number of cases on this cruise. But there’s clearly something systemic currently wrong on this ship. We’re previous cruisers on HAL in Europe, and we were surprised at the much different demographic on this cruise. The Lido Deck is generally jammed with cruisers while the dining rooms have been relatively empty. And there are lots of kids - and with the way children are let to run wild these days, it perhaps is part of the problem.


I’ve also found the last CDC inspection of this ship in April 2017, with a low score and NO remediation plan submitted by Holland.


I’ll have more to say after the cruise ends.
So, you came down with Noro on this cruise. Because of cost you refused to be diagnosed by a trained Medical Officer, who could give you meds and whatever else it takes to cure it...


You also propagated the Noro by continuing to hang out in public places around the ship, instead of quarantining yourself and other cabin mates (if any) and therefore spreading it even more.....


I do not think the Medical Officer is in the wrong, ethically or otherwise to answer to a passenger the medical information you asked for. Now if you are CDC, Captain or other responsible person that is in the Need to Know bracket......................


Hubby was on the Noordam a few weeks ago and heard nothing of Noro on her.


Keep in mind that depending on how long you were on the ship BEFORE you started showing/experiencing symptoms, you yourself could have brought it on board with you.


I really cannot wait to read your review.



IRL_Joanie
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#6
Miami, Florida
164 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Originally posted by ChicagoDude
We are currently on the Noordam northbound from Vancouver, ending at Sitka (Anchorage) tomorrow, August 5.


This will be the third cruise in a row that the Noordam has had a huge Norovirus outbreak. The medical officer on this cruise refuses to confirm how many cases are on this current cruise.


Prior to the start of our cruise in Vancouver, we were sent an email by Holland telling us that our check-in would be delayed while they “super disinfected” the ship. This obviously didn’t work very well.


When we were checking in at Vancouver, the check-in clerk (a part-time, non-Holland employee) mentioned that the boarding was delayed due to “a couple cases of illness on the previous cruise”. I asked her who told her to say this, and she said they were briefed that day by someone from Holland.


The previous cruise has 142 reported cases! With the real number likely to be higher.


I came down with the illness overnight after leaving Skagway. I went down to medical to report my illness, and Holland wanted $95 for me to see the doctor. As there is no medication to treat Norovirus, I demurred from seeing the doctor. They told me that the only reports they take are after seeing the doctor. This is borderline fraud.


The CDC will at some point have a report about the number of cases on this cruise. But there’s clearly something systemic currently wrong on this ship. We’re previous cruisers on HAL in Europe, and we were surprised at the much different demographic on this cruise. The Lido Deck is generally jammed with cruisers while the dining rooms have been relatively empty. And there are lots of kids - and with the way children are let to run wild these days, it perhaps is part of the problem.


I’ve also found the last CDC inspection of this ship in April 2017, with a low score and NO remediation plan submitted by Holland.


I’ll have more to say after the cruise ends.
Well ChicagoDude, you have done a marvelous job of demonstrating to us how uninformed you are about Cruise Ship Sanitation.

On a ship of Noordams age, a 91 score is not bad - especially when you look at the less than serious observations and violations listed. I work for CDC part of the year when I am not managing cruise ships. I am willing to bet that if I inspected you house using CDC standards, your house would score far worse than Noordam. By the way, how many backflow preventers - leaky or otherwise - do you have in your house?
At home, do you always store dirty dishes more than 2 feet away from clean ones?

I will not defend HAL. Having worked for them in the past, I know that the cruise line is absolutely terrible, a poor value for money, and the management in Seattle is too cheap to do anything properly.

But the cause of the three weeks worth of Norovirus on the ship is most likely the same cause as the Norovirus outbreaks on the many other cruise ships sailing to Alaska this month - unclean and dishonest passengers bringing it with them when they board.
The CDC estimates that EVERY cruise originating in a US port boards approximately 60 passengers who are infected with Norwalk Virus. Some of them know they have it and refuse to report it for fear of being denied boarding; others were exposed on the flight to the port, or they used hotels, buses, or taxis (or a cruise terminal) that were contaminated by sick passengers leaving the previous cruise. This second group have no symptoms yet, as Norwalk virus only shows itself 24 - 48 hours after exposure.
If you or your fellow passengers have symptoms on day 1 or 2 of your cruise, it is nearly guaranteed that you were exposed before you boarded the ship.


Should the cruise line provide free medical treatment to someone who contracts Norwalk virus on a cruise?
Should they provide free medical treatment to someone who contracts other viruses like the flu or a cold on a cruise?
How about if you stub your toe or break your leg when you go ashore?
What about people who eat too much and suffer indigestion?
Sunburn at the pool?

The CDC may very well never receive a report on this so-called outbreak. The ship is required to send them a special report when the total number of infected passengers and crew hits 3%. At that point the CDC calls it an outbreak. Noordam could have over 3,000 people total onboard.

And yes, the actual number of infected people is usually quite a bit higher than the reported number. Why? Because many people who contract the illness are dishonest and refuse to report it.

The best places on a ship to contract Norovirus are the Buffet and the public toilets.
You have probably already spotted many people in the buffets displaying sub-human behavior with the food and utensils. People suffering from Norovirus are reluctant to go to the dining room, because a quick exit is difficult. But if they are in the buffet, it is very easy to get to a public toilet or their cabin in an emergency.
People suffering from Norovirus often think it better to use a public toilet than make a mess in their cabin toilet. So they spread it to you.

You need to know that a virus like Norwalk is difficult to catch. There are very few avenues that it can use to enter your body.
In nearly all cases, it is not airborne, so you cannot breathe it in.
The virus can only enter your body via your mouth, ears, nose, or eyes.

How does it get to those places? Usually on your hands.
If you keep your hands - clean or otherwise - out of your mouth, nose, ears, and eyes, it is nearly impossible to contract Norwalk virus. Civilized people should not be putting their hands there anyway.

There are really only 3 other ways that Norwalk virus can enter your body:
1. Contaminated hands (yours) touching food before you eat it. Civilized people should use utensils to eat food.
2. Contaminated hands (other passengers) touching food before you eat it. This is nearly impossible to control. That is why you should avoid buffets on ships.
3. Contaminated hands (crew) touching food before you eat it. This one is easy to investigate. If a crewmember is contaminating the food, many, many people are eating the same things. This type of contamination usually results in many hundreds or thousands of passengers getting sick all at the same time.

Wash your hands - and keep them away from your mouth.
#7
Hermosa Beach
555 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
Originally posted by CHPURSER
Well ChicagoDude, you have done a marvelous job of demonstrating to us how uninformed you are about Cruise Ship Sanitation.



On a ship of Noordams age, a 91 score is not bad - especially when you look at the less than serious observations and violations listed. I work for CDC part of the year when I am not managing cruise ships. I am willing to bet that if I inspected you house using CDC standards, your house would score far worse than Noordam. By the way, how many backflow preventers - leaky or otherwise - do you have in your house?

At home, do you always store dirty dishes more than 2 feet away from clean ones?



I will not defend HAL. Having worked for them in the past, I know that the cruise line is absolutely terrible, a poor value for money, and the management in Seattle is too cheap to do anything properly.



But the cause of the three weeks worth of Norovirus on the ship is most likely the same cause as the Norovirus outbreaks on the many other cruise ships sailing to Alaska this month - unclean and dishonest passengers bringing it with them when they board.

The CDC estimates that EVERY cruise originating in a US port boards approximately 60 passengers who are infected with Norwalk Virus. Some of them know they have it and refuse to report it for fear of being denied boarding; others were exposed on the flight to the port, or they used hotels, buses, or taxis (or a cruise terminal) that were contaminated by sick passengers leaving the previous cruise. This second group have no symptoms yet, as Norwalk virus only shows itself 24 - 48 hours after exposure.

If you or your fellow passengers have symptoms on day 1 or 2 of your cruise, it is nearly guaranteed that you were exposed before you boarded the ship.



The CDC may very well never receive a report on this so-called outbreak. The ship is required to send them a special report when the total number of infected passengers and crew hits 3%. At that point the CDC calls it an outbreak. Noordam could have over 3,000 people total onboard.



And yes, the actual number of infected people is usually quite a bit higher than the reported number. Why? Because many people who contract the illness are dishonest and refuse to report it.



The best places on a ship to contract Norovirus are the Buffet and the public toilets.

You have probably already spotted many people in the buffets displaying sub-human behavior with the food and utensils. People suffering from Norovirus are reluctant to go to the dining room, because a quick exit is difficult. But if they are in the buffet, it is very easy to get to a public toilet or their cabin in an emergency.

People suffering from Norovirus often think it better to use a public toilet than make a mess in their cabin toilet. So they spread it to you.



You need to know that a virus like Norwalk is difficult to catch. There are very few avenues that it can use to enter your body.

In nearly all cases, it is not airborne, so you cannot breathe it in.

The virus can only enter your body via your mouth, ears, nose, or eyes.



How does it get to those places? Usually on your hands.

If you keep your hands - clean or otherwise - out of your mouth, nose, ears, and eyes, it is nearly impossible to contract Norwalk virus. Civilized people should not be putting their hands there anyway.



There are really only 3 other ways that Norwalk virus can enter your body:

1. Contaminated hands (yours) touching food before you eat it. Civilized people should use utensils to eat food.

2. Contaminated hands (other passengers) touching food before you eat it. This is nearly impossible to control. That is why you should avoid buffets on ships.

3. Contaminated hands (crew) touching food before you eat it. This one is easy to investigate. If a crewmember is contaminating the food, many, many people are eating the same things. This type of contamination usually results in many hundreds or thousands of passengers getting sick all at the same time.



Wash your hands - and keep them away from your mouth.


This is great and helpful info. Thanks for sharing!


Sent from my iPad using Forums
#8
Kamloops BC
149 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Does anyone know if these issues are on Volendam also? We are sailing on this ship soon with babies that are 11 months old- our previous cruise was DCL's Fantasy and they were always wiping and polishing, but reading stuff like this does make me nervous, with babies crawling around and into everything. It is sounding like Holland's cleaning standards aren't that great? Like we will need to be extra diligent about wiping things and such - I'm a bit embarrassed to say I didn't realize this was such a problem
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#9
Newmarket(near Toronto)
1,084 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by DnA2010
Does anyone know if these issues are on Volendam also? We are sailing on this ship soon with babies that are 11 months old- our previous cruise was DCL's Fantasy and they were always wiping and polishing, but reading stuff like this does make me nervous, with babies crawling around and into everything. It is sounding like Holland's cleaning standards aren't that great? Like we will need to be extra diligent about wiping things and such - I'm a bit embarrassed to say I didn't realize this was such a problem
I never comment on postings about Norovirus on ships, but feel that I must comment on your statement "it sounds like Holland's cleaning standards aren't that great." Perhaps as passengers we should be more diligent washing our hands etc. How many times have you seen people use the washrooms and not wash their hands,? people sneezing not covering their mouths? , or coughing into their hands and then touching chairs etc.
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#10
Sunny Sequim, Washington state
5,925 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
For factual information, here are links to the CDC regarding norovirus on cruise ships and cruise line outbreak updates:

https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/pub/nor.../norovirus.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/surv/gilist.htm

Gastro - Intestinal outbreaks, including norovirus, occur on all cruise lines across the board, from the elite lines to the mass lines.

When you pack humanity within a confined space, sooner or later you invite contamination of one kind or another, whether it be in land-based restaurants, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, or cruise ships.

You can stay home and isolate yourself and your families, or you can take precautions such as those mentioned above.The two most important are to wash hands frequently, and avoid touching your face with your hands. You can also avoid shaking hands, use your knuckles or elbows to push elevator buttons or avoid elevators altogether, avoid the buffets, use a paper towel to open the public bathroom doors after hand washing, don't touch handrails, chairs, menus, table surfaces, serving utensils, etc etc. As you can see, it can get rather involved and borderline paranoid. So the first two are the most important: wash hands frequently and avoid touching your face with your hands.
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#11
Tucson
145 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Originally posted by ChicagoDude
And there are lots of kids - and with the way children are let to run wild these days, it perhaps is part of the problem.
Suprise ! Last days of summer, short cruise, just before school starts, grandparents and grandkids Duhhhh
#12
The Third Coast - Nashville
7,874 Posts
Joined Mar 2001
Originally posted by ChicagoDude
I came down with the illness overnight after leaving Skagway. I went down to medical to report my illness, and Holland wanted $95 for me to see the doctor. As there is no medication to treat Norovirus, I demurred from seeing the doctor. They told me that the only reports they take are after seeing the doctor. This is borderline fraud.
Only a medical professional can diagnosis Noro. A self-diagnosis can't be reported. Doesn't matter if it's TB, Noro, VD, etc. I don't know why you think this is fraud.

I'm sorry you got sick on your cruise. That had to be miserable.

Roz
#13
Florida
20,361 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
That is very sad.
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#14
The Third Coast - Nashville
7,874 Posts
Joined Mar 2001
Originally posted by DnA2010
Does anyone know if these issues are on Volendam also? We are sailing on this ship soon with babies that are 11 months old- our previous cruise was DCL's Fantasy and they were always wiping and polishing, but reading stuff like this does make me nervous, with babies crawling around and into everything. It is sounding like Holland's cleaning standards aren't that great? Like we will need to be extra diligent about wiping things and such - I'm a bit embarrassed to say I didn't realize this was such a problem
On every cruise I've taken, not just HAL, I've found the staff to be very diligent about cleaning. I've watched them clean the ceiling of the Lido late at night. Do you clean your ceiling at home? I don't. Noro isn't breaking news. We've had outbreaks here in Nashville where entire schools and school systems had to be closed for a few days. It's rampant in nursing homes.

Roz
#15
Coastal GA USA
21,689 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
If there are repeated outbreaks on the same ship, sailing the same itinerary, I would bet that if you did an epidemiological survey, you would find those that got sick first stayed at the same hotel, or ate at a particular restaurant, flew in on the same plane, used the same restroom...In other words, they got it in the embarkation port or in transit. No amount of deep cleaning of the ship is going to get ride of it if the new passengers keep bringing it on again. EM
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#16
Central Maryland
17,014 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Let me try something here. HAL does seem to have a lot of Alaska norovirus this year which seems quite strange. CDC data shows 4 outbreaks, 3 of them on the ships (2 Volendam, 1 Nieuw Amsterdam) that do 7-day cruises from Vancouver. These cruises exchange a number of PAX at Skagway embarking/disembarking for land tours. Is it conceivable that a hotel/bus/train car serving Skagway could be a source? Just wondering.

Roy
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#17
3,881 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Originally posted by rafinmd
Let me try something here. HAL does seem to have a lot of Alaska norovirus this year which seems quite strange. CDC data shows 4 outbreaks, 3 of them on the ships (2 Volendam, 1 Nieuw Amsterdam) that do 7-day cruises from Vancouver. These cruises exchange a number of PAX at Skagway embarking/disembarking for land tours. Is it conceivable that a hotel/bus/train car serving Skagway could be a source? Just wondering.

Roy
We were on the Volendam for 30 days, on the No. Pacific crossing right before the Alaska season. There were no incidents of code red/orange while we were onboard - and no reference to Noro (as far as I heard).I agree it may be something that is being picked up"along the way"at one of the stops.
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Carol
#18
108,046 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
OP -- sorry to hear that you were sick with the Noro.


Noro -- the last few years we have had many schools reporting that they had to close for "deep cleaning" because of so many children having the Noro. Noro is not just on cruise ships.


We have been on many HAL ships with the Noro -- even when HAL was doing that 48 hour of not touching anything in the Lido when a cruise began. So that evidently doesn't work. And they weren't all Alaskan cruises.


Many years ago we were doing a fall repositioning cruise from Seattle to Ft Lauderdale. No one was sick for the first 5 days. In LA quite a few people got on board for the remaining days of the cruise. Within a couple of days the Noro broke out. Amsterdam. And oh boy did it break out. The next 3 cruises after ours it was still raging. HAL finally cancelled the Thanksgiving cruise to get the ship really cleaned.


Another we did a back-to-back cruise on the Ryndam for Alaska. We had no illness from Vancouver to Seward. There were several buses that arrived from land tours with sick people. They were denied boarding in Seward. But still the Noro broke out on the ship.


Those are just a couple of times of the many times we have experienced Noro on HAL.


It was so bad on some of our cruises that activities were cancelled, pools closed, waiters in the dining room placed your butter and rolls on your plate, library and casino was also closed, no self service in the Lido, you got small packets of salt and pepper.


We have been fortunate that we have never got the Noro.



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#19
San Diego, CA
1,739 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
There are no cures for norovirus or most other viral infections. Just medications to lessen the symptoms. I am surprised that HAL charges for norovirus treatment as this discourages people from addressing the issue.

I would also add that if HAL no longer takes the precaution of serving food in the buffet for the first 48 hours then one can hardly expect passengers to quarantine themselves. Prevention is always better than trying to deal with it after the norovirus has spread.

I for one would like to know if there is a norovirus problem on my cruise so that I can make informed decisions such as avoiding the Lido buffet.

igraf




Originally posted by IRL_Joanie
So, you came down with Noro on this cruise. Because of cost you refused to be diagnosed by a trained Medical Officer, who could give you meds and whatever else it takes to cure it...


You also propagated the Noro by continuing to hang out in public places around the ship, instead of quarantining yourself and other cabin mates (if any) and therefore spreading it even more.....


I do not think the Medical Officer is in the wrong, ethically or otherwise to answer to a passenger the medical information you asked for. Now if you are CDC, Captain or other responsible person that is in the Need to Know bracket......................


Hubby was on the Noordam a few weeks ago and heard nothing of Noro on her.


Keep in mind that depending on how long you were on the ship BEFORE you started showing/experiencing symptoms, you yourself could have brought it on board with you.


I really cannot wait to read your review.



IRL_Joanie
#20
Maine
11,647 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Originally posted by CHPURSER
The CDC may very well never receive a report on this so-called outbreak. The ship is required to send them a special report when the total number of infected passengers and crew hits 3%. At that point the CDC calls it an outbreak. Noordam could have over 3,000 people total onboard.
Actually, every ship is required to send a report of the number of GI cases to the CDC within 24 hours prior to entering a US port from a foreign port, every trip, whether there have been any cases at all. They must also send a special report when the reported cases reaches 2% of passengers and crew. It is only when the reported cases reaches 3% that CDC posts and "outbreak update", or if there has been a 2% special report for more than two cruises. So, yes, they will get a report, but whether it becomes public knowledge is a different matter, as the routine reports and the 2% special reports are not posted on the website.

One thing the CDC does that is more important to remediation than looking at the raw number of reported cases, is to track the number reported each day. If the number rises after the start of a cruise, and then tapers down towards the end, followed by another rise on the next cruise, the culprit is typically another infected passenger joining the second cruise. If the number of cases rises after the start of a cruise, and remains high over the turn-around and the first couple of days of the next cruise, then it is typically a crew member. So, high reportable cases on multiple cruises is not necessarily caused by the folks frequenting a common hotel, restaurant or bus, it can be just that there are a number of infected people whose personal hygiene is such that they re-infect the ship.