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Just off Symphony..Health Violations in Chops followed by Norovirus

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My family of 7 disembarked the Symphony yesterday.  This cruise was 14 months in the making, consisting of my husband and myself, my three kids in college, my niece that usually cruises with us and my Mom who is 83 and travels in a wheelchair.  Traditionally we have cruised together once a year for years now.  I lost my Dad two years ago and it was a lot of work to convince my Mom to come without him.  With the kids at college and my niece living four hours away we were so excited to spend this time together.

 

We purchased 5 nights of dining ahead and made reservations once on board.  Not an easy task even though we were among the first to board.  By tradition we eat the first and the last night at Chops but had to settle for the 2nd and 5th night instead.  No problem just disappointment.....not a big deal we were on a cruise!!  On the second night we went to Chops for our 8 pm.  dinner.  We were in the entranceway for at least 15-20 minutes waiting for our table.  I found it funny that a couple of times a waiter walked through carrying plates of food that was going to be served.  We finally get seated and order.  We were at a long table and began eating.  At some point I looked into the small area where the waiters have a small table with the computer on it where orders are placed.  I could see plates there and at first didn't pay much attention, but after a bit of time I looked closer and realized exactly what was going on.  There were plates of food yet to be served piled on top of each other...along with plates that had leftovers of food and dirty silverware piled up in the same area.  I watched as waiters came to place orders and used their hands on the clean plates pushing them aside out of the way of the keyboard.  Dirty plates were being touched at the same time.  These were actually  placed over a clean container of silverware.  As my table was being served their next course I leaned to my niece asking her what is going on here?  I believe that it had just started to sink in to her as well.  She's like I'm watching too, I'm not sure.  With seven in my party some people are eating courses ahead of others.  I watch and see the next several plates come off of that dirty table and set in front of us at our table.  I honestly was in shock and couldn't believe it.  I told the waiter exactly what I saw and that this was not acceptable and a health violation.  Anything I asked him he just looked at me in silence and said I'm sorry.  The last couple of plates were removed and replaced as part of my party continued to eat and had no idea what was going on.  I was so upset and everyone was uncomfortable.  A manager did come over and I told him exactly what happened and my concerns.  He didn't have much to say.  

 

As dinner continued I watched the waiters remove dirty plates from underneath this table in a cupboard and scrape leftover food onto a plate on this same exact table and pile the plates up.  It was disgusting.  This very small table and the cross contamination going on here was unbelievable.  Dinner was finished and everyone in my party left except me.  I confronted the waiter and told him how upset I was and why.  The manager came back to talk to me and I explained what else was going on at that table and how I felt they were contaminating food and serving it to people.  I actually told him how afraid I was of my Mom getting sick at her age and how this had ruined our entire evening.  In hindsight, I would have done things differently.  I should have stopped everyone from eating immediately, spoken to the manager and left.  I believe the shock of what I was seeing left me unsure of what to do and not wanting to totally ruin our evening and formal night.  It was actually ruined from the moment that happened.

 

33 hours later my Mom woke up with violent diarrhea and vomiting.  It was four hours before I could even get her out of the bathroom and call for medical to come and get her.  She was diagnosed with norovirus and dehydration.  She stayed for iv fluids and some testing due to other health conditions then released to her room and in isolation.  I mentioned my Mom is 83 and uses a wheelchair which means that in this condition someone had to be with her for most of the time.  She was released the next day from isolation but still unable to leave the room or eat much due to the illness.  Then next day she did get to watch a show but was just exhausted and not herself.  At 2am the following morning the vicious cycle started again.  I got her to the medical center and back on iv and antibiotics this time.  At that time she was quarantined for the rest of the trip.  

 

I cannot even explain how upset our family was and is and how certain we are that we know where this came from.  My Mom had only two days before this ruined the trip.  The rest of my family couldn't be around her.  I missed a lot of the things we had planned and was exhausted from lack of sleep taking care of her and worry.  We never got off the ship as a family.  I had to cancel snorkeling and my son stayed on with her while I got off in St Kitts for a short while.  Honestly I feel like the trip didn't even happen.  All of the things we were going to do never happened.

 

I repeated my story time after time starting at guest services and had to repeatedly demand to talk to someone else.  It wasn't easy and is still not solved at this point.  We got home late last night and my Mom is doing fine now and that's what is important, but Im broken hearted over the cruise that was supposed to happen.

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Time to start drafting that e-mail to management.......

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Interesting that no one else in your party had oro virus, did anyone else on the ship have it? I am very surprised you didn't discuss what you saw at the table with anyone other than your niece. I know you said you were shocked at what you saw, I can't imagine being so shocked that I let my family continue to eat through every course???????

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Posted (edited)

I'm sorry this happened to you and your Mom. I am glad she is feeling better. Norovirus can occur without being widespread, even in the same family as long as good hygiene is strictly followed. However, I am curious as to why they gave your Mother antibiotics if she was diagnosed with Norovirus? Was there some other type of bacterial infection? 

 

Nevertheless, I agree with you that you should have stopped everyone eating, once you saw what was happening, hindsight is always 20/20 though. I will be sure to keep my eyes peeled next week, when in Chops. Thanks for the heads up. 

Edited by Mikew0805

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, PhoenixCruiser said:

I think you might be reaching

Agree... Sorry when it happens, and am for you. But Peak time of yr, could get sick almost anywhere. Even on way to Ship. Only way prevent on board is if ship doesn't take on Passengers. Again, sorry for you

Edited by ONECRUISER

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Posted (edited)

Clearly you have never been a food server in a land-based or ship restaurant. Nothing you described is beyond the normal "back of house" operations. The only difference is on a ship there is so little space much of the back of house is seen by customers who normally never see it.

While I am sorry your mother felt ill you yourself said she already had pre-existing conditions and was not well upon boarding. Anything from plan travel to stress of traveling could have triggered her symptoms. Especially as no one else in your dining party became ill. 

I understand you wanting to make it better for your mother but I truly don't think anyone onboard is responsible for that.

For the record, food poisoning or Noro hits you MUCH QUICKER than 33 hours (or 2 days as you said) so I am even more in doubt the dinner was the cause of her distress. You can get Noro from touching elevator buttons, stair rails, bathroom doors and more....but it hits in 12 hours, not 33.

 

Edited by SakeDad
addtl info

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Posted (edited)

Also, you were too shocked to tell your family to stop eating or even what you saw but you were not too shocked to mention it several times to the waiter and the manager? 

Edited by tennislvr8

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Posted (edited)

I am sorry your cruise did not go as planned, and very sorry to hear of your mother's illness. I hope she is feeling better.

 

What do you mean by "not resolved"? You are surely not expecting compensation from RCCL for your mother's illness, or the cruising interrupted because of your mother's illness, are you? If no one else in your party became ill, and no one else on the ship became ill, it will be impossible to prove that any conditions you saw at Chops contributed to her illness. No matter how many folks you talk to....

 

I hope you and your family have better cruising in the future!

Edited by elhenry

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1 hour ago, SakeDad said:

Clearly you have never been a food server in a land-based or ship restaurant. Nothing you described is beyond the normal "back of house" operations. The only difference is on a ship there is so little space much of the back of house is seen by customers who normally never see it.

While I am sorry your mother felt ill you yourself said she already had pre-existing conditions and was not well upon boarding. Anything from plan travel to stress of traveling could have triggered her symptoms. Especially as no one else in your dining party became ill. 

I understand you wanting to make it better for your mother but I truly don't think anyone onboard is responsible for that.

For the record, food poisoning or Noro hits you MUCH QUICKER than 33 hours (or 2 days as you said) so I am even more in doubt the dinner was the cause of her distress. You can get Noro from touching elevator buttons, stair rails, bathroom doors and more....but it hits in 12 hours, not 33.

 

12 hours is early, not late. Norovirus can incubate for up to 48 hours before symptoms are experienced. 33 hours is not even remotely close to implausible. There is absolutely no way to know where she got it, but it was definitely somewhere on the ship, as they had been on board longer than 48 hours. You mentioned food poisoning, and that of course shows up much faster, and 12 hours would be on the really late end of food poisoning.

 

This is all of course if the ship medical staff really did a stool sample, to confirm diagnosis, or just relied on the symptoms. The antibiotics are puzzling if they truly did diagnose Noro. I also do not see a "pre-existing" condition that you mention. Age and wheelchair use are the only factors I noticed, and those alone, are not indicators of a weak immune system. 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Mikew0805 said:

12 hours is early, not late. Norovirus can incubate for up to 48 hours before symptoms are experienced. 33 hours is not even remotely close to implausible. There is absolutely no way to know where she got it, but it was definitely somewhere on the ship, as they had been on board longer than 48 hours. You mentioned food poisoning, and that of course shows up much faster, and 12 hours would be on the really late end of food poisoning.

 

This is all of course if the ship medical staff really did a stool sample, to confirm diagnosis, or just relied on the symptoms. The antibiotics are puzzling if they truly did diagnose Noro. I also do not see a "pre-existing" condition that you mention. Age and wheelchair use are the only factors I noticed, and those alone, are not indicators of a weak immune system. 

 

 

The OP said she was kept "due to other health conditions" which clearly means there were pre-existing conditions, maybe not directly to these symptoms but they certainly could have facilitated them. I am also, like you and others, concerned with the antibiotics, which in themselves can cause gastric stress, if not actually needed. And if she was already on meds did the ship medical staff get a list of those BEFORE prescribing other meds that could have worked against them? Many questions here and few answers...but I also don't think the waitstaff's handling of plates/food was to blame here.

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I’m sorry, but 83 might be too old to take someone on a cruise. If it were the plates that spread the norovirus, why didn’t others get it? I think you’re being pretty dramatic. 

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26 minutes ago, RPD said:

I’m sorry, but 83 might be too old to take someone on a cruise. 

 

That is utter nonsense.

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49 minutes ago, RPD said:

I’m sorry, but 83 might be too old to take someone on a cruise. If it were the plates that spread the norovirus, why didn’t others get it? I think you’re being pretty dramatic. 

Disagree. Guess you don't do many longer or Repo Cruises.I'm 54 and in bottom 10% age group. Did B2B 12 & 10 niter's and met couple on turn around day also doing both. He was 86, she 82...and pushing his wheelchair. Hope I'm as healthy at her age

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So I guess in the 33 hours between chops and getting sick, your mother didn't touch or pick up anything, didn't go anywhere, didnt eat or drink anything, didnt talk to anyone, just stayed in her cabin in a state of hibernation? 

That's how your so certain it was chops that got her sick right!

 

Sorry it happened. You're angry and annoyed that your vacation didnt go to plan and you want someone/something to blame....but I dont think its chops...

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Hi, I posted my experience for others to just keep an eye open and because I was just so disappointed.  I'll try to clear a few things up.  We were on board for about 56 hours before going to chops and my Mom had no symptoms of anything at that time.   She doesn't hold hand rails, or door knobs, or touch elevator buttons, or get her own food.  She does touch tables and ate food given to her from the buffet.   When I realized the mess at the table and said something to my niece other people were already eating that course.  That was when the server leaned over and set three more plates down and I had the discussion with him.  Those last three plates were replaced.  The rest of my table did realize at that point something was going on.  They were not in view of this table and I explained it to them.  Of course I wished I had them give back the rest on their plates at that time.  Believe me it was a big deal.

 

Yes my mother is 83 and in a wheelchair but has no medical condition that warrants her to not travel.  I purchased her travel insurance as well. I do carry a list of her meds and gave it to the dr.   She received iv fluids for dehydration and blood was drawn.  Tests were done to check her kidney function due to the dehydration.  That is something her own dr had told  me in the past to do if she was dehydrated.  I was told she had norovirus and that it takes 24-48 hours to come down with.  I was also told there were others on the ship with it.  The second visit another iv was started with antibiotics.  I asked the nurse why and she said "in case of infection".  I asked if the norovirus comes back like this and she said "yes sometimes".  

 

You cannot place plates of food one on top of the other with the bottom of a plate on top of food that is going to be served.  You cannot store plates headed to a table and ones returned together.  A server touching the tops of both plates is definitely spreading germs.  I guess you had to picture what was going on at this little table.

 

Meeting with people at Royal, I was apologized to, told these things would be fixed and no they definitely are not supposed to do those things at that table.  The words cross-contamination were used.  I was told they watched video.  I have been offered compensation of some sort but it is through headquarters and I'm supposed to hear from them.  I don't think I'm being dramatic.  Cruising several times a year, my son had norovirus on the Oasis just over a year ago.  I didn't complain to anyone nor ask for anything because of it.  This was a totally different situation.  

 

I hope I cleared any questions up from my original post.  Happy and healthy cruising to you.

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Posted (edited)

The first post you said you didn't tell the table, now you said you did. I am still baffled as to why any of you continued to eat after seeing the health code violations and disgusting cross contamination. It doesn't appear that shocked was the reason, as you said the table was made aware of what was going on.  Especially considering a family member experienced noro virus on a previous sailing. 

Edited by tennislvr8

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4 hours ago, Merion_Mom said:

 

That is utter nonsense.

LOL   Thank you!   We hope to be cruising well past that!

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I believe I said I leaned to my niece and asked her what was going on as I had just realized something wasn't right.  That was how the situation began to unfold.  I didn't say that I kept this a secret from the table.  I couldn't have if I wanted to.  There were a couple of waiters at our table and the manager and I was obviously upset.  I'm also baffled why we didn't get up and just leave and stated that as well.  I actually was shocked.

 

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5 hours ago, RPD said:

I’m sorry, but 83 might be too old to take someone on a cruise. If it were the plates that spread the norovirus, why didn’t others get it? I think you’re being pretty dramatic. 

 

If 83 is the cut off age for a cruise then a whole lotta  cruise passengers shouldn't  be on a cruise ship according to this poster. Age is just a number, 83 for one person is a whole different story for another. Ones overall health is a concern, but age not so much.

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6 hours ago, RPD said:

I’m sorry, but 83 might be too old to take someone on a cruise. If it were the plates that spread the norovirus, why didn’t others get it? I think you’re being pretty dramatic. 

Are you serious??

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6 hours ago, RPD said:

I’m sorry, but 83 might be too old to take someone on a cruise. If it were the plates that spread the norovirus, why didn’t others get it? I think you’re being pretty dramatic. 

I guess Holland America should be out of business then?:classic_rolleyes:

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1 minute ago, molly361 said:

I guess Holland America should be out of business then?:classic_rolleyes:

 

Good one.:classic_laugh:

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