I don’t know how we managed to come away unscathed.
The average age of our fellow cruise passengers was about 70. Seriously, it was a pretty old crowd. The number of scooters, walkers, wheelchairs and canes nearly outnumbered the passengers walking about unassisted. I know from experience that if you are weakened to a point of needing a scooter or wheelchair you may also have less defense against colds and flu. We had a pretty good incubator crowd.
Someone came onboard with a cold. It didn’t take long for that to pass through the buffet line, onto the dinner tables, over to the doorknobs and railings and elevator buttons and into the air. Many of the passengers began to display symptoms after a few days.
The medical team has a small area in the bowels of the ship and cannot quarantine patients in their facility so sick passengers were sent back to their rooms to recuperate through their illness. We frequently saw people carrying food plates on the elevators back to their sick cabin mates. Walking down the halls every day I noticed more and more empty plates being placed outside cabins. You could not be in an elevator or pass a conversation without hearing some mention of the onboard sickness.
When the sick passengers started to “feel better” they came back into circulation on the ship. It was a challenge to find a space where the sounds of sniffling, sneezing and coughing were not present.
Arriving at our first port after 4 days at sea saw some passengers still ailing and confined to their rooms; those that did not recover were ultimately met at succeeding ports by ambulance and were disembarked for further medical care.
Throughout the 15 day cruise there was never a general announcement of the widespread sickness(even the crew was sneezing and coughing by the end) but each cabin was given a reminder memo of good sanitary procedures and suggestions of when to contact the medical team. It was really on each passenger to keep themselves well and practice preventative measures.
We chose to dine in the restaurants with fresh linen at the table and to be served our meals by the waiter; the uncovered dining tables in the main food courts were not sanitized between each passenger and the common serving utensils in the buffet line were being touched by each person moving through the line.
I witnessed a young girl sitting at one of these tables and sneezing and coughing openly. She left the table and another unwitting passenger immediately sat down with their food to enjoy their meal.
We tried not to use any handrails. We touched elevator buttons with the back of our hand or a covered finger. We tried to keep to our own space. We washed our hands for the requisite 20 seconds after touching surfaces. We used the hand sanitizer every time we saw a dispenser.
We took vitamin boosters every day; we drank juices and ate nutritious meals (and some not so nutritious). We spent a lot of time on the outside decks.
Whether it was one of these things or some combination we were fortunate enough to escape the invasive sickness at sea. We were able to enjoy every day.
Our last port was Ensenada. I’m pretty sure the stomach illness my husband experienced the next day was from his love for authentic Mexican food – but that’s another story!