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Just read in the Daily Record that there has been a bad outbreak of Norovirus or some kind of stomach bug on Balmoral.

Ship was delayed embarking for 2 hours to be “cleaned” but virus wasn’t mentioned. The next departure will be delayed for 3 hours to be “cleaned”. Surely it needs a thorough deep clean before allowing more passengers onboard. I feel so sorry for the 100 people or so who have been affected and confined to their cabins. What a nightmare, and an expensive one at that! Never travelled with Fred before, but  we were comtemplating it. Don’t think we would go near it now. This seems to happen too often on this cruiseline. They really need to have more respect for their passengers and make sure hygiene is up to standard.

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4 hours ago, Hookedoncruising! said:

Just read in the Daily Record that there has been a bad outbreak of Norovirus or some kind of stomach bug on Balmoral.

Ship was delayed embarking for 2 hours to be “cleaned” but virus wasn’t mentioned. The next departure will be delayed for 3 hours to be “cleaned”. Surely it needs a thorough deep clean before allowing more passengers onboard. I feel so sorry for the 100 people or so who have been affected and confined to their cabins. What a nightmare, and an expensive one at that! Never travelled with Fred before, but  we were comtemplating it. Don’t think we would go near it now. This seems to happen too often on this cruiseline. They really need to have more respect for their passengers and make sure hygiene is up to standard.

 

In the past FOCLs took days to deep clean the ship not hours.

 

Have a look at the thread "Live(ish) from Balmoral German cities and Kiel week" below...very interesting.

 

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Hi TwoTravellersLondon,

Yes, i read that and it is very interesting as you said.

How on earth can they deep clean a cruise ship in 2 or 3 hours? 
I read that they lost a court case a while ago for the same thing, so you would think they would be extra vigilant in ensuring passengers health and safety. I’m just glad we haven’t booked, and i pity those that have and are leaving tomorrow. I don’t think it would be a relaxing holiday at all.

I hope all that all who have been ill make a swift recovery.

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11 hours ago, Hookedoncruising! said:

Hi TwoTravellersLondon,

Yes, i read that and it is very interesting as you said.

How on earth can they deep clean a cruise ship in 2 or 3 hours? 
I read that they lost a court case a while ago for the same thing, so you would think they would be extra vigilant in ensuring passengers health and safety. I’m just glad we haven’t booked, and i pity those that have and are leaving tomorrow. I don’t think it would be a relaxing holiday at all.

I hope all that all who have been ill make a swift recovery.

Simple answer you can’t, my brother who owns and runs a cleaning business, part of which deals with deep cleaning of medical facilities after such breakouts, has said it is impossible to deep clean a cruise ship in 2 hours. 

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Hi TwoTravellersLondon,

Yes, i read that and it is very interesting as you said.

How on earth can they deep clean a cruise ship in 2 or 3 hours? 
I read that they lost a court case a while ago for the same thing, so you would think they would be extra vigilant in ensuring passengers health and safety. I’m just glad we haven’t booked, and i pity those that have and are leaving tomorrow. I don’t think it would be a relaxing holiday at all.

I hope all that all who have been ill make a swift recovery.

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Hi Snowhill. Thankyou for replying. Surely Fred Olsen should not be allowed to sail until the ship has been thoruoghly deep cleaned,which must surely take days or even a week to make sure it is safe for passengers and crew to embark. I really feel sorry for people who have booked the cruise leaving today. We certainly would not want to board. A cruise is meant to be a nice relaxing holiday, but i don’t think there will be many relaxed people onboard after this happening.

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11 hours ago, Hookedoncruising! said:

Hi TwoTravellersLondon,

Yes, i read that and it is very interesting as you said.

How on earth can they deep clean a cruise ship in 2 or 3 hours? 
I read that they lost a court case a while ago for the same thing, so you would think they would be extra vigilant in ensuring passengers health and safety. I’m just glad we haven’t booked, and i pity those that have and are leaving tomorrow. I don’t think it would be a relaxing holiday at all.

I hope all that all who have been ill make a swift recovery.

 

Many ships have cases of Norovirus.

 

We experienced it on one cruise line (not FOCLs) in 2010 and never, ever want to meet up with it again! We've done about 25-30 cruises with "Fred"/FOCLs over the years and never personally fallen victim.

 

However FOCLs is the only UK based company that we know of that have been successfully sued in the County Court by more than a dozen or so of their customers who contracted Norovirus on board FOCLs' at the beginning of the 20-teenies. FOCLs lost the case because the Judge held that while FOCL had an appropriate plan to deal with an outbreak of Norovirus consistent with industry standards, it had not been adequately implemented.

 

FOCLs appealed the case in 2016 and lost. The Court of Appeal found that the passengers had proved that they had contracted Norovirus on board the FOCLs 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.

 

Even after about 30 cruises our only experience of a major Norovirus outbreak on FOCLs was in the mid 20-teenies when a cruise we had booked was cancelled at a few days’ notice because the ship was returning to the UK with a major Norovirus outbreak onboard. We received an apology, a full refund and a generous future cruise credit... and we had a great time on a cruise on the same ship later that year with no problems. But the ship... the Balmoral as we remember... was deep cleaned and sanitized for the best part of a week before it took on any new passengers.

 

The Balmoral arrived back at Rosyth in the "wee sma hoours" of this morning (2 July 2023) and we've seen a report attributed to Kate Bunyan, Company Medical Director at FOCLs, commenting on guests "affected by acute gastroenteritis symptoms" that the Balmoral will have "a thorough deep clean" today and embarkation this afternoon for the 17 night cruise "Experience The Traditions of Spain & Portugal" "will be delayed by three hours.

 

The red flash on the FOCLs website this morning is that there is... "STILL TIME TO BOOK"

 

22 minutes ago, Snow Hill said:

Simple answer you can’t, my brother who owns and runs a cleaning business, part of which deals with deep cleaning of medical facilities after such breakouts, has said it is impossible to deep clean a cruise ship in 2 hours. 

 

One newspaper report suggests that about 100 passengers were effected... if that's the case... three hours seem a very short time to eradicate the cause of "acute gastroenteritis symptoms" which seem to have affected so many people in the last week or so.

 

We also really do wonder if a three hour deep clean will be adequate... we hope so for the sake of folk booked on the next cruise.

 

The NHS advice that in a case of Norovirus all surfaces that might be contaminated should be disinfected, all fabrics such as bedding should be washed on a hot wash... and so on. 

 

To be ill on a cruise isn't good. To be ill with Norovirus or "acute gastroenteritis symptoms" on a cruise if absolutely dreadful. We do very much hope that those who have been affected have been well looked after and that they will now be fully compensated for everything that they've missed out on.... and the discomfort and distress that they've suffered.

Edited by twotravellersLondon
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1 minute ago, Hookedoncruising! said:

I really don’t think they should be allowed to sail with the present situation.

Its disappointing to have your cruise cancelled at short notice, but far better than to be ill and confined to your cabin.

 

Totally agree... the authorities have prevented FOCLs sailing in the past. One member of this forum has suggested on another thread that folk were kept in isolation longer than necessary on the last cruise so that the Balmoral could be allowed into one of the German ports.

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2 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

Totally agree... the authorities have prevented FOCLs sailing in the past. One member of this forum has suggested on another thread that folk were kept in isolation longer than necessary on the last cruise so that the Balmoral could be allowed into one of the German ports.

I think that the post you refer to states that they were only in isolation for 24 hours. That is certainly not "longer than necessary". As I replied to that post schools require 48 hours between last symptoms and return to school. No wonder it keeps spreading!

 

Edit: Feeling better after 24 hours indicates to me that it wasn't Norovirus. Norovirus wipes you out for much, much longer than that.

Edited by FangedRose
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1 hour ago, FangedRose said:

I think that the post you refer to states that they were only in isolation for 24 hours. That is certainly not "longer than necessary". As I replied to that post schools require 48 hours between last symptoms and return to school. No wonder it keeps spreading!

 

Edit: Feeling better after 24 hours indicates to me that it wasn't Norovirus. Norovirus wipes you out for much, much longer than that.

 

TBH I agree that 48 hours sounds more realistic, but there will always be those who do not report their symptoms anyway and if they do not they can be out and about far earlier.  I do think the longer the isolation period, the more likely some will not report the issue, so a difficult one.   The person concerned did have to stay another 24 hours (though has not come back to report when they were actually released).   It did sound as though it may have been because Germany required that 48 hour isolation to allow the ship to dock - different countries/ports have different requirements, but any health issues on board has to be reported to the authorities as part of the requirements for the ship to dock and allow passengers ashore.  That situation was very sad as the person concerned missed two really good ports and perhaps the main point for choosing that particular cruise.  I wonder if the isolation is normally 24 hours on other cruise lines, though of course sounds like the location where the ship is sailing will be a factor.  The only time I have contracted it on many cruises is on a P&O ship about ten years ago and I was being disembarked the next morning.  I was told to stay in the cabin and they sent someone with a wheelchair to take me off the ship, along with DH, when others were not disembarking.  I had been given an injection when I took bad the previous evening and my symptoms never returned, yet that must have worn off during the day.  There was a big ongoing problem on a Thomson ship in the past, which was very long standing indeed, that ship had quite a reputation, but it is long gone now.

 

 

There is a lot of norovirus around at present and it seems to be affecting a lot of cruise lines, as it did pre-covid.  We appear to have returned to "normal" cruising in all senses now that people are mixing more.  There was an ongoing problem on Arcadia until recently, though we boarded for a cruise on her 6th June and we were allowed to serve ourselves at the buffet throughout the cruise with no mention of norovirus.  There was no delayed embarkation at the start of our cruise, so presumably no special deep clean. yet it was reported to be a problem on the previous cruise - I was looking at the posts on social media.  There was a very unfortunate incident as passengers were disembarking though, which implied that someone was suffering from an intestinal problem which could well have been an infection - I will not go into details.  People seem to talk on some forums about room service trays being left around as an indicator that someone is isolating, yet on Arcadia we had room service on after noon when we wanted to eat on our balcony and the tray was still outside our cabin late that night, yet we had rang them to say we had finished and put it out.  I have room service breakfast quite often, but trays were cleared quickly from that.

   

Edited by tring
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1 hour ago, FangedRose said:

I think that the post you refer to states that they were only in isolation for 24 hours. That is certainly not "longer than necessary". As I replied to that post schools require 48 hours between last symptoms and return to school. No wonder it keeps spreading!

 

Edit: Feeling better after 24 hours indicates to me that it wasn't Norovirus. Norovirus wipes you out for much, much longer than that.

 

You may well be correct. According to the Scottish Press FOCLs has described the illness affecting so many on board as "acute gastro-enteritis" Normally that might be expected that most cases in children are caused by a virus called rotavirus. Cases in adults are usually caused by norovirus or bacterial... but, as you suggest, it may be something else that's giving folks "acute gastro-enteritis" symptoms, laying them low and ruining their holidays.

 

You are certainly correct that the NHS guidelines are that people should stay off away from others until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed.

 

You've possibly seen post #19 in the thread "Live(ish) from Balmoral German cities and Kiel week" where the member there seems to have been under the impression that isolation was for 24 hours and was extended for a further 24 hours to allow the Balmoral to visit Warnemunde. We hope that that member has now recovered and will post more information.

 

Lots of ships have outbreaks of things like what's being described by people who have been on the Balmoral for the last cruise and the one previously. Our concern, as people buying cruises, is how the ship and the cruise-line will deal with the problem if and when it arises.

 

Looking back at the new archives... the Balmoral has had problems with norovirus/acute Gastro-enteritis in the past.

 

In 2016 the BBC reported that;

 

In 2009 an outbreak of norovirus hit more than 100 people on the Balmoral on a cruise of Scotland in 2009.

 

Others reported an outbreak of illness on the Balmoral in November 2009 despite cleaning and hand sanitisation.

 

In 2010, at least 310 people on board the ship were reported to suffering diarrhoea and vomiting when it docked in Los Angeles.

 

In May 2015 an eight-day Scandinavian cruise on the Balmoral was cut short after a number of people fell ill with norovirus.

 

In 2016 The US Centre for Disease Control reported that 252 of 919 passengers on board the Balmoral had had the stomach virus since leaving the UK on 16 April 2016. FOCLs commented that the ship had been subjected to "extensive sanitisation measures and cleaning" According to one source the ship was not allowed to dock in Hamilton and St George's in Bermuda because of the virus but FOCLs Fred Olsen said the ship had at no point in the cruise been quarantined. The evening Standard reported that the Balmoral had been "infected with a vomiting bug before the vessel set sail" as clients on the previous cruise had also been affected.

 

Most folks who cruise are pretty savvy about norovirus and how to avoid it... most are fully aware that it's contacted by touching contaminated surfaces and objects... and that anyone can join a ship and inadvertently introduce the illness. However we personally find the idea of "acute gastro-enteritis" far more unsettling... as it can be caused by close contact with someone or contaminated food. So we think that it would be a huge advantage fro FOCLs to identify what the illness was, how it was caused and spread despite the precautions taken on the ship... and confirm that the source/cause has been eliminated. 

 

That would certainly be the transparent way to proceed and would, we suspect, certainly put the minds of many at rest.

 

The main thing is that folks joining a cruise should be able to look forward to a pleasant, relaxing holiday.

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16 minutes ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

You may well be correct. According to the Scottish Press FOCLs has described the illness affecting so many on board as "acute gastro-enteritis" Normally that might be expected that most cases in children are caused by a virus called rotavirus. Cases in adults are usually caused by norovirus or bacterial... but, as you suggest, it may be something else that's giving folks "acute gastro-enteritis" symptoms, laying them low and ruining their holidays.

 

You are certainly correct that the NHS guidelines are that people should stay off away from others until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed.

 

You've possibly seen post #19 in the thread "Live(ish) from Balmoral German cities and Kiel week" where the member there seems to have been under the impression that isolation was for 24 hours and was extended for a further 24 hours to allow the Balmoral to visit Warnemunde. We hope that that member has now recovered and will post more information.

 

Lots of ships have outbreaks of things like what's being described by people who have been on the Balmoral for the last cruise and the one previously. Our concern, as people buying cruises, is how the ship and the cruise-line will deal with the problem if and when it arises.

 

Looking back at the new archives... the Balmoral has had problems with norovirus/acute Gastro-enteritis in the past.

 

In 2016 the BBC reported that;

 

In 2009 an outbreak of norovirus hit more than 100 people on the Balmoral on a cruise of Scotland in 2009.

 

Others reported an outbreak of illness on the Balmoral in November 2009 despite cleaning and hand sanitisation.

 

In 2010, at least 310 people on board the ship were reported to suffering diarrhoea and vomiting when it docked in Los Angeles.

 

In May 2015 an eight-day Scandinavian cruise on the Balmoral was cut short after a number of people fell ill with norovirus.

 

In 2016 The US Centre for Disease Control reported that 252 of 919 passengers on board the Balmoral had had the stomach virus since leaving the UK on 16 April 2016. FOCLs commented that the ship had been subjected to "extensive sanitisation measures and cleaning" According to one source the ship was not allowed to dock in Hamilton and St George's in Bermuda because of the virus but FOCLs Fred Olsen said the ship had at no point in the cruise been quarantined. The evening Standard reported that the Balmoral had been "infected with a vomiting bug before the vessel set sail" as clients on the previous cruise had also been affected.

 

Most folks who cruise are pretty savvy about norovirus and how to avoid it... most are fully aware that it's contacted by touching contaminated surfaces and objects... and that anyone can join a ship and inadvertently introduce the illness. However we personally find the idea of "acute gastro-enteritis" far more unsettling... as it can be caused by close contact with someone or contaminated food. So we think that it would be a huge advantage fro FOCLs to identify what the illness was, how it was caused and spread despite the precautions taken on the ship... and confirm that the source/cause has been eliminated. 

 

That would certainly be the transparent way to proceed and would, we suspect, certainly put the minds of many at rest.

 

The main thing is that folks joining a cruise should be able to look forward to a pleasant, relaxing holiday.

 

Yes, that was the post I was referring too. And on there I also mentioned the "48 hour rule". It appears that they were initially told 24 hours, then was awaiting the go ahead to go ashore was told it had changed to 48 hours.

 

The standard treatment for anything gastr intestinal is 24 hours fluids only (not milk) then gradually introduce food. Only then after a day of normal eating can you be considered "over it". Unless any bout of illness was a single instance due to over indulgence (so I'm told (ahem)), or a very mild case of food poisoning/intolerance/allergy I would be too nervous of venturing out of my cabin for 48 hours anyway.

Edited by FangedRose
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10 minutes ago, Eglesbrech said:

In writing.

How are you feeling now?  Hope you have recovered.  This is all making me very nervous as we are due to go on Balmoral on 19th July.  After having what FOCL called gastroenteritis (GP called it dysentery) in February I really don’t want a repeat.  I was ill for three weeks and needed strong antibiotics, so it was bacterial, not viral then.  I really must learn to turn down a “bargain” as I did say I’d never go with FOCL again!

 

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1 minute ago, teenieleek said:

How are you feeling now?  Hope you have recovered.  This is all making me very nervous as we are due to go on Balmoral on 19th July.  After having what FOCL called gastroenteritis (GP called it dysentery) in February I really don’t want a repeat.  I was ill for three weeks and needed strong antibiotics, so it was bacterial, not viral then.  I really must learn to turn down a “bargain” as I did say I’d never go with FOCL again!

 

Im absolutely fine thanks. I was actually only ill for a very short period of time, it was not at all pleasant while it lasted but over within hours.
 

Frankly I suffered more stress with the cabin confinement than the illness, whatever it was.

 

Im sure you will be just fine for your cruise. After a situation like this the ship will probably be cleaner than it normally is.

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3 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

Im absolutely fine thanks. I was actually only ill for a very short period of time, it was not at all pleasant while it lasted but over within hours.
 

Frankly I suffered more stress with the cabin confinement than the illness, whatever it was.

 

Im sure you will be just fine for your cruise. After a situation like this the ship will probably be cleaner than it normally is.

 

Assuming Scotland is the same as England, port health, (a part of the local authority environmental health dept) will be involved and someone will go on board and decree what needs to be done, having looked into what the situation is - details will need to be given to them.  Certainly the next cruise will be well monitored by many of us as well as officially.  It is true not many customers post on here, but there are places where posts can be looked for, so info will come out, just cannot mention those sources on here.

 

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3 minutes ago, tring said:

 

Assuming Scotland is the same as England, port health, (a part of the local authority environmental health dept) will be involved and someone will go on board and decree what needs to be done, having looked into what the situation is - details will need to be given to them.  Certainly the next cruise will be well monitored by many of us as well as officially.  It is true not many customers post on here, but there are places where posts can be looked for, so info will come out, just cannot mention those sources on here.

 

Yes I understand but I’m not on the “other place” so I’m really hoping I’ll be able to find out the situation on here, just don’t know how else to access info.

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2 hours ago, teenieleek said:

Yes I understand but I’m not on the “other place” so I’m really hoping I’ll be able to find out the situation on here, just don’t know how else to access info.

 

Just a standard internet search may give you something, possibly news reports or you could search other media to see if you could find something.  Remember though even need reports can be quite incorrect at times and sometimes things get exaggerated or not fully reported elsewhere or are a comment about a comment.  For that reason I would not pass on any details if what I may see

 

The person reporting here about his/her recent experience is a long term poster here and not someone given to exaggerate or have any particular views which could affect the reliability of their posts.

 

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