A tale of adventure in four parts.
One of the things I appreciate most about Norwegian Cruise Lines is their dedication to cleanliness and sanitation. Before you step on the gangplank the first time, and every time you go into a restaurant, there is staff with hand-sanitizing spray and hand sanitizers throughout all the public areas. The crew doesn’t shake hands, opting for either fist bumps or the Asian-favored bows. Special care is taken with the health of their passengers. I’ve cruised with them a lot and I’ve never had an issue.
My husband noticed it first. While there are daily reminders in the cruise announcements to passengers to wash their hands and use the hand sanitizers, my husband commented that we seemed to hear those more often. I at first blew it off, then I noticed the increased announcements as well.
The self-service buffet was suddenly no longer self-service (which brought the already congested meal service to a screeching halt). Condiments such as salt and pepper along with silverware disappeared from table tops and menus were suddenly printed on plain paper and disposed off after use. Doors to the public bathrooms were propped open so people didn’t touch door handles. An announcement was made that although the Library and Game rooms would remain open, passengers could no longer check out books or games.
People on the ship were getting sick.
So at this point, it’s Friday. We’ve been on a rough, rainy cruise for five days with two more days to go before our first port of call – Cobh, the port that services Cork, Ireland. About midnight Friday night/Saturday morning, I got really, really ill. I’ll save you the nasty details, but it was severe. I couldn’t sip water or even turn in bed without triggering another horrible episode. This went on at least every half hour until 8:00 am when I called the medical staff. They advised me to stay in the cabin (which was no problem since I could barely get out of bed) and they would come to me. About an hour later, the doctor and two nurses showed up to evaluate me. They gave me a blessed injection of Zofran (a powerful anti-nausea drug) along with some other meds and Gatorade mix. The doctor told us that at that point, about 60 passengers had reported ill, but he said that after the first report, the next 20 cases or so showed up immediately, thus the measures to contain the spread of the problem.
Shortly thereafter there was a knock on our cabin door. My husband (who felt fine) answered the door and it was guest services. The woman asked to see our cabin keys, which my husband handed her. She then stated we would get them when medical released us which wouldn’t be for at least 48 hours. Both my husband (who was not sick, but assumed to be exposed) were quarantined in our cabin. We technically could leave our cabin, but since we didn’t have keys, we couldn’t get back in. (Well, not “legally” anyway.) We were limited to what we could order off room service (which never got an order right). Our food, when it showed up, was served on disposable dishes with plasticware. My husband ordered something that needed a sharper knife to cut and he got a plastic knife. I didn’t care because I could barely sip broth, but I felt awful for him. And once it took more than two hours to get an order of ginger ale and broth. It’s hard to force fluids when you can’t get them delivered.
That was Saturday. On Sunday, we were in port for the first time since sailing from New York the previous Sunday.
I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland. I’m part Irish on my mother’s side and have several first-generation Irish friends. In addition, there is a fellow RA advocate (https://thegallopinggrandma.wordpress.com/) who lives there. And the weather was amazing! After a week of storms and rain and waves, we were nestled into the sunny, peaceful harbor. But we were quarantined and couldn’t even leave our cabin and get out on deck. Fortunately, our cabin had a balcony and we were docked on our side of the ship, so I at least got to SEE Ireland for the first time.
I think someone who was quarantined not only left their cabin, they tried to leave the ship. The captain made an announcement that any quarantined passenger who was caught outside their cabin would be put off the ship at the next port.
On Monday, we docked early at Dun Laoghaire which serves Dublin. We weren’t supposed to be released from quarantine until 3:00 pm, but after a discussion with the nurse, assuring them I had no further symptoms and my husband had never had any issues, they lifted the restriction around noon.
Anchored off Dun Laoghraire
From the ship, it was about a 1.5 hour trip into Dublin (1/2 hour for the tender from the ship to shore, then about an hour to catch the train and travel in). I was so exhausted from being sick and living on broth for three days, I opted not to go ashore. If we’d been docked on land, I probably would have gotten off the ship and at least walked around, but I wasn’t up to a bumpy tender ride, a walk to the rail station and a swaying train ride even before we got to Dublin. My husband, however, did take advantage of being on dry land and went into town for a couple of hours. I enjoyed some fresh air and sunshine on deck and hanging out on our balcony.
The next day was another day at sea as we sailed toward Le Havre/Paris. It would a total of 10 days before I would set foot on terra firma.
Stay tuned … it gets better! Hon Fleur, London, Bruges and Amsterdam are coming up.