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Live(ish) from Balmoral German cities and Kiel week


Eglesbrech
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On 6/25/2023 at 5:49 PM, Eglesbrech said:

 

Personally I think it’s pure luck. I hand wash frequently , I carry anti viral gel, I never use the public toilets and still I’m struck down. 

  As I recall, one of the problems with norovirus is that most anti-viral stuff doesn't  work with it. You have to look for anti-viral stuff that specifically says it works on norovirus.   It also survives a long time on surfaces (like handrails, handles, buttons you push...). 

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19 hours ago, terry2 said:

  As I recall, one of the problems with norovirus is that most anti-viral stuff doesn't  work with it. You have to look for anti-viral stuff that specifically says it works on norovirus.   It also survives a long time on surfaces (like handrails, handles, buttons you push...). 

Which is why I thought the standard isolation period was 48 hours. (Wasn't covid thought to survive 72 hours?). I can imagine that it could survive in the pocket of a jacket (which is not exposed to the sun, may possibly be damp) for longer than 24 hours. You can imagine putting keys in a pocket, then using that same hand to turn a door handle. Boom, transmission. 

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Apologies for the delay in updating, I have been trying to enjoy what was left of my cruise.
 

Well I’m home, unpacked and the first lot of washing is in the machine. We were all unceremoniously kicked off very early this morning. They just wanted us out so they could clean regardless of how inconvenient that timing was to departing guests. The first three of the colours were called at 7am! When we left some of coach party passengers were outside in the cold with just a few seats between many and no toilet facilities as the terminal was closed to disembarking passengers, they were complaining loudly.

 

That was not an enjoyable holiday not only because I (along with many many others) contracted “something” but because we were under restrictions for the entire duration of the cruise. Embarkation was delayed on day 1 and from that point nothing was normal. I will try to stick to factual information as that is probably the most useful for those on the subsequent cruises.

 

The restrictions became increasingly tight as the week went on so:

 

The jaccuzizes and the laundry were closed for the entire cruise

 

The public toilets were all closed completely from about day 3 of the cruise so everyone had to go back up and down to their cabins which was a real effort for those with mobility difficulties. These facilities were still closed this morning for disembarkation but the way this was happening I am guessing everyone would have been off by 8am anyway so still had cabin access.

 

Most of the activities were stopped, basically anything involving touch so all the games, dancing etc. basically we were left with quizzes, shows and lectures (the lectures were very good thankfully).The difference in the programme on the first day and then later is really stark. Many people were really bored on the sea days, including me.

 

There was no Oceans event

 

The ship constantly smelled of chemicals as everything was being washed down with it. You had to check things were dry before you sat down anywhere.

 

The ship also smelled of vomit on occasion (not for long as to be fair they were quick to clean up). There was a “hit squad” for clearing this up and the poor staff had lots of mess to sanitise. Seeing people in hazmat suits and full PPE cleaning vomit doesn’t make for a happy, carefree holiday.

 

The buffet was being served by staff for the entire cruise which slowed down service.

 

Butter, salt and pepper in packets and paper menus the later part of the week. There were no table snacks.

 

Throughout the holiday you just couldn’t get away from the fact that lots of people were very ill. The Captain came on twice a day with a long script about it all, yellow buckets of chlorine(?) in every venue, staff in full PPE in the corridors, bagged food trays from sick rooms in the corridor etc. these were not normal room service trays as they were bagged in plastic, the normal service trays were not.

 

The staff must be very tired from dealing with it all as this is the second cruise in a row with an issue. Let’s hope they actually get it clean for the people embarking today.

 

To end on a positive note I enjoyed the ports I did actually get to go and see. Just a pity I missed the one I booked the cruise for.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Eglesbrech said:

Apologies for the delay in updating, I have been trying to enjoy what was left of my cruise.
 

Well I’m home, unpacked and the first lot of washing is in the machine. We were all unceremoniously kicked off very early this morning. They just wanted us out so they could clean regardless of how inconvenient that timing was to departing guests. The first three of the colours were called at 7am! When we left some of coach party passengers were outside in the cold with just a few seats between many and no toilet facilities as the terminal was closed to disembarking passengers, they were complaining loudly.

 

That was not an enjoyable holiday not only because I (along with many many others) contracted “something” but because we were under restrictions for the entire duration of the cruise. Embarkation was delayed on day 1 and from that point nothing was normal. I will try to stick to factual information as that is probably the most useful for those on the subsequent cruises.

 

The restrictions became increasingly tight as the week went on so:

 

The jaccuzizes and the laundry were closed for the entire cruise

 

The public toilets were all closed completely from about day 3 of the cruise so everyone had to go back up and down to their cabins which was a real effort for those with mobility difficulties. These facilities were still closed this morning for disembarkation but the way this was happening I am guessing everyone would have been off by 8am anyway so still had cabin access.

 

Most of the activities were stopped, basically anything involving touch so all the games, dancing etc. basically we were left with quizzes, shows and lectures (the lectures were very good thankfully).The difference in the programme on the first day and then later is really stark. Many people were really bored on the sea days, including me.

 

There was no Oceans event

 

The ship constantly smelled of chemicals as everything was being washed down with it. You had to check things were dry before you sat down anywhere.

 

The ship also smelled of vomit on occasion (not for long as to be fair they were quick to clean up). There was a “hit squad” for clearing this up and the poor staff had lots of mess to sanitise. Seeing people in hazmat suits and full PPE cleaning vomit doesn’t make for a happy, carefree holiday.

 

The buffet was being served by staff for the entire cruise which slowed down service.

 

Butter, salt and pepper in packets and paper menus the later part of the week. There were no table snacks.

 

Throughout the holiday you just couldn’t get away from the fact that lots of people were very ill. The Captain came on twice a day with a long script about it all, yellow buckets of chlorine(?) in every venue, staff in full PPE in the corridors, bagged food trays from sick rooms in the corridor etc. these were not normal room service trays as they were bagged in plastic, the normal service trays were not.

 

The staff must be very tired from dealing with it all as this is the second cruise in a row with an issue. Let’s hope they actually get it clean for the people embarking today.

 

To end on a positive note I enjoyed the ports I did actually get to go and see. Just a pity I missed the one I booked the cruise for.

 

 

 

We're so pleased to read that you're home and well after the experience.

 

Sadly this is the exact words that a friend used when she emailed us in January after s very similar experience of the Borealis... "Well the medical team and guest services were run off their feet but no matter how often the captain reminded guests the virus continued spreading. I was fine after 24 hours but one of our friends was confined 3 times and was completely exhausted and so poorly." 

 

The FOCLs management in Ipswich... really must take note that events like this are likely to seriously damage the company and diminish the brand.

 

They should begin by offering compensation by way of a real refund.

 

 

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6 minutes ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

We're so pleased to read that you're home and well after the experience.

 

Sadly this is the exact words that a friend used when she emailed us in January after s very similar experience of the Borealis... "Well the medical team and guest services were run off their feet but no matter how often the captain reminded guests the virus continued spreading. I was fine after 24 hours but one of our friends was confined 3 times and was completely exhausted and so poorly." 

 

The FOCLs management in Ipswich... really must take note that events like this are likely to seriously damage the company and diminish the brand.

 

They should begin by offering compensation by way of a real refund.

 

 

Just like in February too.  I found the daily telling off and instructions from the captain very insulting.  No one got on our cruise sick, the ship made us sick, not properly cleaned from the preceding plague cruise. 

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1 hour ago, Eglesbrech said:

Apologies for the delay in updating, I have been trying to enjoy what was left of my cruise.
 

Well I’m home, unpacked and the first lot of washing is in the machine. We were all unceremoniously kicked off very early this morning. They just wanted us out so they could clean regardless of how inconvenient that timing was to departing guests. The first three of the colours were called at 7am! When we left some of coach party passengers were outside in the cold with just a few seats between many and no toilet facilities as the terminal was closed to disembarking passengers, they were complaining loudly.

 

That was not an enjoyable holiday not only because I (along with many many others) contracted “something” but because we were under restrictions for the entire duration of the cruise. Embarkation was delayed on day 1 and from that point nothing was normal. I will try to stick to factual information as that is probably the most useful for those on the subsequent cruises.

 

The restrictions became increasingly tight as the week went on so:

 

The jaccuzizes and the laundry were closed for the entire cruise

 

The public toilets were all closed completely from about day 3 of the cruise so everyone had to go back up and down to their cabins which was a real effort for those with mobility difficulties. These facilities were still closed this morning for disembarkation but the way this was happening I am guessing everyone would have been off by 8am anyway so still had cabin access.

 

Most of the activities were stopped, basically anything involving touch so all the games, dancing etc. basically we were left with quizzes, shows and lectures (the lectures were very good thankfully).The difference in the programme on the first day and then later is really stark. Many people were really bored on the sea days, including me.

 

There was no Oceans event

 

The ship constantly smelled of chemicals as everything was being washed down with it. You had to check things were dry before you sat down anywhere.

 

The ship also smelled of vomit on occasion (not for long as to be fair they were quick to clean up). There was a “hit squad” for clearing this up and the poor staff had lots of mess to sanitise. Seeing people in hazmat suits and full PPE cleaning vomit doesn’t make for a happy, carefree holiday.

 

The buffet was being served by staff for the entire cruise which slowed down service.

 

Butter, salt and pepper in packets and paper menus the later part of the week. There were no table snacks.

 

Throughout the holiday you just couldn’t get away from the fact that lots of people were very ill. The Captain came on twice a day with a long script about it all, yellow buckets of chlorine(?) in every venue, staff in full PPE in the corridors, bagged food trays from sick rooms in the corridor etc. these were not normal room service trays as they were bagged in plastic, the normal service trays were not.

 

The staff must be very tired from dealing with it all as this is the second cruise in a row with an issue. Let’s hope they actually get it clean for the people embarking today.

 

To end on a positive note I enjoyed the ports I did actually get to go and see. Just a pity I missed the one I booked the cruise for.

 

 

Horrible, what a shame.  I think you, and everyone else on that trip, should ask for a refund. 

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Glad to hear that you are now home and recovered.

 

I’m aware of a holiday resort in Essex (I’m keeping an eye on it as I’m going there later in the year) that recently had a Norovirus type outbreak. Local environmental health got involved and questionnaires were sent to all guests when they arrived home to gauge the true extent of the outbreak. In the end, they cancelled all of the holidays booked over a mid week period, so that the whole resort could be fully cleaned during the closure. I haven’t heard of any outbreak since then, so it looks as if it’s done the trick. But it indicates how long is required for a true deep clean, not just a few hours. 

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A little guide to being incarcerated on Fred Olsen ships:

 

Ask room service for water. They will provide cans of still water if you are in quarantine.

 

The menu for those who are poorly is really dreadful. Flabby cold cheese toasties, overcooked fish and boiled bland potatoes, tasteless jelly. I have lost a lot of weight and it was lack of food rather than the actual illness.

 

The choice of (free) films on the TV is actually very good. You may be locked in and bored silly but there is at least a decent choice of viewing.

 

You can watch the live shows and events from the Neptune’s lounge from your cabin on the Tv. It’s not the same as being there but at least it’s a bit of entertainment.

 

Be prepared to be “checked in on” at least once an hour be that from the medical team, room service, customer services etc. They want to know you are there in your room and not wandering around the ship. I never left the room from the moment I was ill until I had permission to leave. It did however make me paranoid about answering the phone quickly in case they thought I had. Not comfortable.

 

 

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Glad to hear you are ok and managed to make the most of what seems to be a pretty awful cruise.    At least one consolation might be the return here of a typical Scottish summer weather wise so hopefully you enjoyed a slightly warmer temperature and at least you don’t have to go on an “end of cruise diet” this time! 

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12 minutes ago, Ilovemygarden said:

Glad to hear you are ok and managed to make the most of what seems to be a pretty awful cruise.    At least one consolation might be the return here of a typical Scottish summer weather wise so hopefully you enjoyed a slightly warmer temperature and at least you don’t have to go on an “end of cruise diet” this time! 

I must be one of the few people to go on a cruise and come home losing weight.

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4 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

Apologies for the delay in updating, I have been trying to enjoy what was left of my cruise.
 

Well I’m home, unpacked and the first lot of washing is in the machine. We were all unceremoniously kicked off very early this morning. They just wanted us out so they could clean regardless of how inconvenient that timing was to departing guests. The first three of the colours were called at 7am! When we left some of coach party passengers were outside in the cold with just a few seats between many and no toilet facilities as the terminal was closed to disembarking passengers, they were complaining loudly.

 

That was not an enjoyable holiday not only because I (along with many many others) contracted “something” but because we were under restrictions for the entire duration of the cruise. Embarkation was delayed on day 1 and from that point nothing was normal. I will try to stick to factual information as that is probably the most useful for those on the subsequent cruises.

 

The restrictions became increasingly tight as the week went on so:

 

The jaccuzizes and the laundry were closed for the entire cruise

 

The public toilets were all closed completely from about day 3 of the cruise so everyone had to go back up and down to their cabins which was a real effort for those with mobility difficulties. These facilities were still closed this morning for disembarkation but the way this was happening I am guessing everyone would have been off by 8am anyway so still had cabin access.

 

Most of the activities were stopped, basically anything involving touch so all the games, dancing etc. basically we were left with quizzes, shows and lectures (the lectures were very good thankfully).The difference in the programme on the first day and then later is really stark. Many people were really bored on the sea days, including me.

 

There was no Oceans event

 

The ship constantly smelled of chemicals as everything was being washed down with it. You had to check things were dry before you sat down anywhere.

 

The ship also smelled of vomit on occasion (not for long as to be fair they were quick to clean up). There was a “hit squad” for clearing this up and the poor staff had lots of mess to sanitise. Seeing people in hazmat suits and full PPE cleaning vomit doesn’t make for a happy, carefree holiday.

 

The buffet was being served by staff for the entire cruise which slowed down service.

 

Butter, salt and pepper in packets and paper menus the later part of the week. There were no table snacks.

 

Throughout the holiday you just couldn’t get away from the fact that lots of people were very ill. The Captain came on twice a day with a long script about it all, yellow buckets of chlorine(?) in every venue, staff in full PPE in the corridors, bagged food trays from sick rooms in the corridor etc. these were not normal room service trays as they were bagged in plastic, the normal service trays were not.

 

The staff must be very tired from dealing with it all as this is the second cruise in a row with an issue. Let’s hope they actually get it clean for the people embarking today.

 

To end on a positive note I enjoyed the ports I did actually get to go and see. Just a pity I missed the one I booked the cruise for.

 

 

 

Really sorry to hear of your experience which was not at all good, but thanks for the fuller details.  I am sure none of us expected you to post once you were released as you needed to make what you could of the remaining time onboard, or at least the other ports.  I hope you recover from the experience and are at least able to make what you can of the remaining summer.

 

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44 minutes ago, Britboys said:

What an awful experience for you. Hopefully you have another cruise lined up with a different company and can then put this one behind you.

Andrew you know me so well….

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On 7/2/2023 at 3:34 PM, Eglesbrech said:

Embarkation was delayed on day 1 and from that point nothing was normal.

 

I think in your earlier post you said by 2 hours.  I've had cruises that have proceeded perfectly normally have that duration of delay in boarding, so 2 hours is no time to do a deep clean of the ship.

 

My experience of norovirus on a FO cruise (also on the Balmoral) was that our cruise was curtailed a day eary to get back to Southampton so the company could do a "deep clean".  I don't know if the problem originated on our cruise or continued to the next.  But what I do recall is going to dinner on the second evening to find the dining room decimated with people absent, and that's when we found out there was a norovirus outbreak.  So two hours is a woefully short amount of time for the crew to fix things.  Clearly, given it originated on the previous cruise it wasn't stopped by whatever they did.

 

On 7/2/2023 at 3:34 PM, Eglesbrech said:

The restrictions became increasingly tight as the week went on so

 

 

That was my experience too.  Too all intents and purposes it looked like an uncontrolled outbreak and nothing could do done to stop it.  I managed to avoid it (the worst I experienced was red-raw hands from all the hand gel and handwashing we had to do), but there were people I met early on during the cruise, who came down with norovirus, recovered, and then caught it again before they disembarked!  It was a pretty disasterous cruise and particularly unpleasant.

 

I'm sorry you had a such a bad experience, anecdotally it does seem to be on FOCL ships that this seems to happen.  It's always brought on board by a passenger, according to the Company.

 

But the CDC in the US connects norovirus not to guests, but to ill workers in food production (https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/norovirus/index.html?fbclid=IwAR1S8XZVtJa7M8sFavTu68aEZaPgy7GRIK-u7ZWEHAVuF6Ds3YBY6kj-NEQ).  The article says "Infected food workers cause about 70% of reported norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food".  Given that crew members rely heavily on tips to supplement their wages, you can understand them not reporting ill, but if they are in food handling and preparation then that is going to have potentially serious consequences.   Until crew have better working conditions and pay I don't see this particular problem going away. 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, richard_london said:

I'm sorry you had a such a bad experience, anecdotally it does seem to be on FOCL ships that this seems to happen.  It's always brought on board by a passenger, according to the Company.

 

We couldn't agree more.

 

We've had a long conversation with an ex-member of the FOCLs staff... and that's exactly the line that he repeated. 

 

However in 2016 the Court of Appeal found that the passengers on FOCLs had proven that they had contracted Norovirus on board and that the judge who had heard the original case had correctly concluded that the illnesses was caused by the fault of FOCLs because there were multiple failures in the implementation of FOCLs plan to deal with Norovirus.

 

In this case... where the Company seem to describe the illness as acute-gastro-enteritis symptoms and these may or may not been caused by Norovirus... it really doesn’t matter what it was/is... it seriously affected 100s of people... according to the Scottish Press... and ruined their holiday. 

 

You're also perfectly right about the transmission. Way back in 2009 a very well-known Celeb. Chef had... what the BBC was to describe as... the largest Norovirus outbreak ever documented in a restaurant. A Cambridge University report eventually concluded that... one of the reason was that members of staff who had been ill returned to work too soon. It was a vicious cycle.

 

We too wonder if FOCLs staff lose out financially if they are ill and not working.

 

It's been reported earlier in this thread that groups of folk were desembarqued at the unearthly hour of about 7.00 am to wait on the quay because the terminal was closed to them and that they had limited seating and no facilities.

 

FOCLs are very good at advertising a warm welcome by smiling staff that will remember cruisers names and "their drinks" and claiming that folks are made to feel "part of the Olsen family"... but you don't leave elderly members of your "family" on a quay early in the morning with no facilities when so many have just had, may have, or will fear that they are just about to have "acute-gastro-enteritis"...

 

It's the stuff of nightmares!

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On 7/2/2023 at 5:05 PM, teenieleek said:

I would be very interested to know how the cruise leaving today gets on.  Unfortunately not many Fred passengers post so it could be difficult to find out.  Any suggestions?  

I am reading elsewhere that they have now lifted all restrictions since yesterday so they must have it under control at long last. The cruise after mine was embarked 3 hours late (and we were kicked off early) for cleaning. It remained at high alert with public toilets closed, paper menus etc etc if what I am reading is accurate.
 

Perhaps if they had imposed restrictions from affected cruise 1 to cruise 2 as they have from 2 to 3 they could have nipped it in the bud for my cruise.

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2 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

I am reading elsewhere that they have now lifted all restrictions since yesterday so they must have it under control at long last. The cruise after mine was embarked 3 hours late (and we were kicked off early) for cleaning. It remained at high alert with public toilets closed, paper menus etc etc if what I am reading is accurate.
 

Perhaps if they had imposed restrictions from affected cruise 1 to cruise 2 as they have from 2 to 3 they could have nipped it in the bud for my cruise.

Thank you for this.  I have been very concerned.  They really need to take much stronger measures much sooner as you say.  Big sigh of relief here after my horrible experience in February.  Maybe I’ll now start to get cautiously excited about my trip rather than dreading it!  

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  • 1 month later...

No apparent problem today. There is a leaflet about in in the Welcome Aboard folder in the cabin, and since I'm a healthcare professional in this area it was of some amusement. Nothing technically wrong but the way they slide around, and avoid spelling out, the main form of transmission is interesting.

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On 8/25/2023 at 12:36 PM, dbjhughes said:

Can anyone who is currently on or has recently sailed on Balmoral please confirm whether norovirus has resolved onboard since these previous posts, as I am considering booking a cruise on her in mid-September..? Many thanks.

I was on the Balmoral to Norway and Spitsbergen, returned 3rd August.  Great trip. No norovirus.  Helluva lot of coughing though and it got worse towards the end.  The Fred. demographic is probably why the line has so much illness.  My DH was heard to wonder on this trip if there was anyone left in Scotland’s care homes.  Cruel but not too far off the mark.

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