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Wheels87 01-29-2014 07:55 PM

Hey Gang,

I just wanted to ask you all about what you think of how the seapass/sail and sign/whatever cards are handled when boarding the ship, either at embarkation, or while returning from port. It seems to me that having the crew members take the card from the guest and then scan it, is a great way to spread norovirus from card to card to card (or passenger to passenger to passenger). I have never understood this practice at all.

Do any of you have any thoughts or insight that could shed some light on this practice?

Just curious,


janfred 01-30-2014 05:01 AM

That's a thought too. We were on the Celebrity Mercury when she was still part of the Fleet and were delayed getting on because 300 passengers had the virus. We finally got on and that cruise and 50 passengers got the virus and my husband and I had to be part of the 50. It really is everything anyone could touch if you think about it. Railings, money in the Casino had to be washed every night (back before vouchers) salt and pepper shakers were all removed from the dinning room, you had to ask for sugar and cream for your coffee, all the food was covered but we still saw people putting their hands under the plastic wrap and using their hands when only the crew was to serve you.. If you even think about your cabin, the phone, the remote just goes on and on you almost need to keep your hands in your pockets. The poor crew has to work around the clock trying to sanitize everything in sight.

Dave 01-30-2014 08:25 AM

So many people touch those cards - think about the bar staff. You order from a waiter and they take your card, they have it with the cards of several others, finally going to the bar to get all the drinks, they are scanned for the receipts, then returned, where you use their pen to sign and I don't like to think about what's on those pens.

Speed is the issue with security taking the cards and scanning them. I've had it both ways, with guests putting their cards in the reader, and it is slower because of lack of familiarity, or they put the card in the wrong way, etc. Perhaps if they made the card readers more user friendly, with at least an image showing how to place the card in it.

I tend to notice practices that could spread contamination because I spent my career in radiation protection and radioactive contamination control. It can be a curse if I think about it too much, especially if I'm sitting at a ship's bar and just watch the bartenders hands for 5 minutes when they are busy. Just don't ask for a lime with your beer and please don't nibble on the decorative fruit or give the cherry to your kid.
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peter l 01-30-2014 10:20 AM

You are spot on Dave. I know on one of our cruises we did in fact insert our card into the readers each time. I almost think it was on the same cruise that a small outbreak started and we encountered wait staff at the entrance to each food venue that herded everyone to the sanitizers before entering the restaurant. Everything was served by ship staff only and no one was allowed to handle anything. No one spoke of any illness you could just tell that something was going on. Better safe than in quarantine !


Sandy 01-30-2014 10:47 AM

Unfortunately, it has been shown that alcohol hand sanitizers, like Purell, are not effective against norovirus. They kill other things, but not noro, and I guess it's better than nothing when hand washing is not available.

I was in Disney World a few months ago, and was turned off by the finger print scanners they now use to get into the park. I asked the attendant to clean off the scanner before I used it. Unlike elevator buttons, one can't use one's knuckle or elbow on a finger print machine!

Dave 01-30-2014 01:12 PM

The facility I worked at has hand geometry scanners for accessing the protected area after going through security screening. You put your hand on a pad and the computer compares your hand shape to one stored in memory, along with swiping your security badge. I hated them. Enough of us finally prevailed and they put hand sanitizer stations on the other side of the turnstiles, but I'd walk to my office and immediately go to the rest room and use soap and hot water.

Royal and the others could at least use a sanitizer brand that does kill norovirus. There are some out there, yet they all seem to use standard Purell, and I think it gives a false sense of sanitation to guests. It would not bother me if cruise ship buffets had servers all the time and not just when they realize an outbreak was happening.
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Wheels87 01-31-2014 04:15 AM

Yes, Dave...I like the idea of servers in the buffet. Not only would there be fewer germs passed around, but it would also have the effect of speeding up the process so the rude people ahead of me in line couldn't dish their vegetables one tiny piece at a time!

I've been on a couple RC cruises where the staff was serving and I loved it!

Being a doctor, and more specifically a pathologist who has been the director of microbiology labs, I notice so many things that could be done differently, I have to not think about it or I will go crazy. For whatever reason, out of everything though, it just seems that with all of those passengers coming back from port, probably with dirty hands, that that would be a good place to start changing practices.

Oh well, maybe someone is paying attention to these forums and will make some changes.


Cruise Fanatic 01-31-2014 07:01 AM

What about in all the ports when you come back through the cruise terminal security. The security takes your ID and boarding pass looks at it, hands it back, then touches the next persons. There are so many things we do on a daily basis where we have to touch things. Many you might touch without even thinking that a person ahead of you could have touched it and been contaminated. Many are obvious like any type of touch pad - ATM, gas pump, (what about grabbing the handle), elevator buttons. Grocery cart handles (I have seen many stores have the Clorox wipes by the carts). What about the store clerk taking your credit card and ID, or the many frequent shopper cards we all carry to earn points/rebates/discounts. The clerk touches them all after touching the person in front of you. Who thinks about on a plane when getting into your narrow row you grab the seat or armrest to help you get into the seat, then put the seatbelt on that was just touched by the passenger before you.

Dave 01-31-2014 08:16 AM

That's why I try not to think about it and just focus on keeping my hands and face clean, and when you wear glasses it is hard to keep from touching your nose, so I am conscious of it. We could all become Mr. Monk!

It was easier with radioactive contamination. We could detect it on the person when they alarmed a monitor, then we could backtrack their pathway and we'd find it on the door handle they touched with their 'crapped up' hand, and so forth. Too bad there isn't a detector for norovirus.
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