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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 06-03-2011, 04:00 PM
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OK, maybe not a class action suit, but we would like to see Princess act a little more responsibly. Of the 113 reported cases, I am sure there are more that didn't report it or like us, who got sick upon arriving home. But it's all good...our "biggest stick" is just to not go Princess next time and hope for better luck with another line if we decide to ever cruise again.
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 06-05-2011, 10:18 AM
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Exclamation Sea Princess and Norovirus follow-up
Thanks for warm welcome to the Board! My wife and I have cruised many times, and I cannot recall ever posting a review anywhere before. Next time, I'll use more formatting!

Regarding Norovirus: One suggestion I would/will (comments are apparently solicited by email) give Princess is to implement Norovirus prevention techniques 100% of the time. Whether the virus was previously on board (as the lightening-fast spread of contamination may infer), or brought on board with new passengers, this is a predictable issue for any ship. In my opinion, passengers should never be allowed to handle food-service utensils. Using known anti-noro procedures aboard every-ship, every-time, would be a good business practice; and go a long way towards prevention of illness...and it's certainly little enough to ask of a cruise line like Princess.

Was Princess "reported" to the CDC? I have no idea, but if you tell me how to do it, I will.

Regarding the food: Bountiful buffets, fabulous food, and regal restaurants are reasons some folks choose to go on a cruise. Depending on your point of view and life-style, you may or may not be disappointed with current cruise practices.

Gone from Princess are the midnight buffets with the fabulous decorations and special chef creations. And, sadly, gone is most of the tasty food. This seems to be an industry trend, we have noticed the steady degradation of food-service and food-quality for several years.

Once-upon-a-time, there were "fabulous midnight buffets". These buffets contained ice-sculptures and food-sculptures made from icing, fruits, and such. Passengers were treated to artistic displays of sea-animals and fish, prepared by creative chefs using food and garnish. Passengers were strongly encouraged to come to the buffet to photograph the art, even if they weren't hungry. The food and displays were all edible, and all good. That devolved into plastic sculptures with paste... moulded to look like food. These "food-sculptures" were apparently stored and then dusted-off and reused for each succeeding cruise. I recall one cruise on Royal Caribbean where the fellow in front of me licked the paste-sculpture...yuch!

Princess used to do a "baked Alaska" march in the dining room one night during each cruise. The dining room lights would dim, and the waiters, assistant waiters and maitre d' would proudly parade though the dining room carrying actual flaming baked Alaska deserts. Immediately afterwards, the baked Alaska would be a desert choice. On this May, 2011 Princess cruise to Alaska, the "baked Alaska" carried (in a lack-luster, desultory fashion) by a reduced complement of waiters, etc., was clearly not food. Perched on top was what appeared to be a battery-operated orange light-bulb to simulate flames. Care to partake?

Like caviar? I don't, but my wife does. Don't look for it anymore on Princess. Time was when Princess offered 3 kinds: red, black and golden. And for "free", with every meal. Early on, Princess dining included Maitre d' table-side cooking of pasta, caesar salad, etc. We still talk about the pasta quattro formaggio we enjoyed on an early Princess cruise. It was great! Not available anymore.

It used to be that cruise lines would offer free escorted ship tours of the "working areas", including the bridge and kitchens. No longer on Princess. Pay-to-view only; and since I did not participate, I cannot critique the tour.

There is also an increasing trend to "nickle-and-dime" passengers for many services and food-items that used to be free. The main-theater entertainment is now usually repeated two-nights running, instead of being fresh daily. Small, but distinct differences.

Back in the day, the stateroom steward would see my wife coming down the corridor from a day-ashore shopping. The steward would rush to open the door for her and help with packages. Remember the folded-towel bunnies? Artfully arranged pillows? Don't look for those cute touches any longer.

Don't get me wrong, cruising is still a "good" experience. It allows you to plop your stuff in one place, and have the ship transport you to your chosen destinations. Just be aware that what you experience may not be as "magnificent" (cruise lines like to use that word to describe their product) as it once was. My first Princess cruise to Alaska (this was my 3rd) was far, far different...and need I say, better.

Will I cruise again, sure,,,but with increasingly reduced expectations. Bon voyage!
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 06-05-2011, 10:53 AM
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One other thing about the Norovirus.

Some folks are just not going to report their sickness. I called on my wife’s behalf. I didn’t mention my symptoms to the doctor, because while present, they were very, very minor. I am not even 100% sure that I actually had noro, perhaps I just had “food poisoning” (but, boy did my wife get it!!). And the doctor was already treating my wife. Maybe passengers don’t report because they don’t want to be confined to their cabin, or maybe because they don’t want to pay for the doctor. Once you’re sick, there’s not that much they can do for you.

And, of course, the folks who got sick after arriving home aren’t likely to report. This situation (becoming sick after returning home) argues that the norovirus (according to the CDC, the incubation period for norovirus-associated gastroenteritis in humans is usually between 24 and 48 hours) was “alive and well” far into the cruise. This means Princess sanitation practices were less than perfect. At the very least, Princess should re-examine their sanitation procedures...don’t they owe that to their passengers?
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  #24 (permalink)  
Old 06-05-2011, 11:15 AM
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As I previously posted, the CDC does have a report on this. Cruise lines must report instances of gastro-intestinal illness. It is not optional as it is for land-based resorts, restaurants, hotels. In this case, the latest CDC inspection happened to take place on May 24, 2011. You can see the details of that sanitation inspection here. Note that these are considered minor issues as the final score was 99 out of 100.

You may wish to read the Vessel Sanitation Operations Manual before making any more assertions that Princess' sanitation practices are lacking. The manual is linked on that score page.
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  #25 (permalink)  
Old 06-05-2011, 11:23 AM
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Exclamation Norovirus - Sea Princess - dissatisfaction
Hi Dave: I understand your position, and this is (after all) the "cruisevreview" forum.

But I am not bad-mouthing cruising, or Princess. Just reporting the facts, mixed with opinion. Isn't that what this board is for?

I do believe that Princess's sanitation practices were ineffectual. If they had worked, norovirus would not have broken out. Do you disagree that passengers should not handle service utensils?

Had Princess utilized the sanitation practices they themselves had developed right from the start, perhaps we would have seen a better cruise.

Again, for this and other reasons, I am disappointed.

If you are personally satisfied with the actions taken by Princess, and the "small" number of norovirus-infected passengers, fine. Not me, not my wife!
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  #26 (permalink)  
Old 06-05-2011, 12:13 PM
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All I want is for Princess (or any line) to be given a fair shake and not broad-brushed with what are purely anecdotal observations. Unless you are someone professionally trained in public sanitation practices and precautions, and performed a detailed inspection of the Sea Princess, all you know is 1) you got sick and 2) it must have been the cruise ship's fault. I'm sorry it happend to you, but even if they did everything you think they should do it still could have happened.

No, I don't like handling buffet utensils but that is the way it is because their would be too much passenger push-back otherwise, plus the need for more crew on duty. People will not want to cruise if they have to face a constant barrage of crew making them use hand sanitizer (not really effective for noro-virus anyway), the smell of bleach in the passageways, etc.

Food for thought (ha) - the odds of contracting a gastro-intestinal illness on a cruise ship is <1%. For the general public that percentage is around 8%. This data was from a USA Today article.
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  #27 (permalink)  
Old 06-05-2011, 12:48 PM
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By the way, Dave, I notice you will be celebrating your 25th anniversary on an upcoming cruise. Congratulations!

Our recent Alaskan cruise was to celebrate our 40th anniversary, and my wife's birthday also came around while we were on-board.

Well, perhaps "celebration" is too strong a word to use in referring to our experiences on this particular cruise. I sincerely hope your upcoming cruise is more pleasant than ours!
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  #28 (permalink)  
Old 06-05-2011, 01:28 PM
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We just sailed on the Crown Princess around the British Isles starting 5/19/11. The second day the ship was hit with the virus. Those with it were quarantined for three days. Many were sick! The captain made the announcement the second week that the CDC had confirmed norovirus. I agree with the other poster, food was awful, conditions bad. I lost five pounds in two weeks because the food was that bad. Who loses weight on vacay?? It seems like those on this board want to make excuses for Princess, so why allow honest reviews?
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 06-05-2011, 01:29 PM
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Thank you. We're certainly hoping the Allure Of The Seas cruise goes well.

You may be surprised to know that I am a bit of a 'germophobe'. I tend to have my meals on cruises in the non-buffet locales, but not entirely.

I've been fortunate to not have what we in Alabama call 'the stomach flu' for several years now. I like to think that my routine of frequent hand washings with soap and hot water, and doing things like never touching public restroom door handles barehanded, have helped.

Nobody is 'making excuses' for Princess. But we are also not going to simply pile on Princess just because people who got sick think we should take up their cause.

All reviews, no matter who wrote them, are subjective. Whether they are 'honest' is for the reader to decide.
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  #30 (permalink)  
Old 06-05-2011, 01:38 PM
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Princess is not the lone ranger when it comes to "Norovirus." Many cruise lines have had the same outbreaks. Some to the point where the ship had to return to port, and the cruise was canceled. This includes Holland America and even the QM2.

I really didn't notice the crew conducting their normal operations any differently than other cruise lines that I have been on. I will say again, I thought Princess did a very good job trying to contain any other Norovirus cases.

Today cruising has more of a mass-market appeal, and there are more and bigger ships than ever before. A lot like the airlines, there is more competition and the price of fuel is adding to the overhead. That means one is just not going to get all the perks that we had ten or twenty years ago. If a passenger wants that luxury, they will have to pay up. That's why there are cruise lines like Crystal and Seabourn.

Just an observation from 20 years of cruising -- still loving it and have two planned for next year.
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