Life aboard a plague ship
Well, when the captain says that they take the threat of “highly contagious gastrointestinal illness” (apparently something called Norwalk virus) seriously, he’s not kidding around. First of all, if you show any symptoms, you’re asked to report to the ship’s medical staff, then remain quarantined in your cabin until 24 hours after symptoms clear. Complimentary room service will be provided…not too remarkable, since it’s complimentary anyways.
But that’s just the start. Here are the changes that I’ve noticed this afternoon:
- The number of Purell dispensers on the ship has increased, and they’ve been moved to more prominent locations like in the middle of doorways.
- When you re-board the ship, a crew member gives you a mandatory squirt of Purell.
- You get another squirt of Purell when entering the dining room for dinner.
- Little travel bottles of Purell have been delivered to every passenger. I’m beginning to suspect that this whole thing is actually a marketing campaign by Purell.
- There are cleaning staff obsessively wiping down banisters, elevator buttons, doorknobs, that sort of thing
- I’ve seen ghostbusters walking around: guys wearing backpacks full of disinfectant with spray wands. They were spraying down the tender boats after they unloaded.
- The bathrooms used to have stacks of single-use cloth hand towels. They’ve been replaced with paper towels.
- There are no stacks of towels by the pools anymore – you have to ask for them.
- At dinner, no baskets of rolls are left on the table. Your server comes around with them, as well as with the butter.
- Your server will also pour the cream for your tea or coffee. The creamer isn’t left on the table.
- Salt and pepper are served from paper packets, given by your waiter. The salt and pepper shakers have been removed.
- The buffet on the Lido deck has been “sealed”. All your food is put on your plate by a crew member. Ditto for the drinks.
- The buffet staff and the security staff are all wearing disposable rubber gloves.
- The hot tubs have been closed.
- The water fountains have been turned off.
- The hospitality staff are not allowed to shake anyone’s hand.
- As I was writing this by the pool, an army of about a dozen mask-wearing, disinfectant-wielding janitorial staff appeared from nowhere and began scrubbing down everything in sight, including the chair I was sitting in.
All this is very impressive, and starts to seem a little excessive. The captain foresaw this, and assures us that it’s all for our own good. I guess I don’t really want to experience what happens when “GI sickness” spreads unchecked among over 2,000 people living in close quarters. But that doesn’t take the sting off the worst precaution of them all:
- Tonight’s scheduled Dessert Extravaganza has been cancelled!