November 26, 2021
- Housekeeping and maintenance teams are following strict industry guidelines set forth to ensure that each ship is as clean and sanitary as it can be. Each of the eight areas that the CDC inspects on every cruise ship. This inspection process includes thorough and laborious procedures meant to ensure the safety and security of each of these assets:
Cruise line medical centers
Portable water systems
Galleys and dining rooms
Swimming pools and whirlpools
Pest and insect management
Child activity centers
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC)
Passengers can go on to the CDC website and see for themselves how cruise ships fared with their inspections and what measures are being taken to remedy any issues. The CDC lists that most ships receive a score of nearly 90 on the 100-point scale. If a cruise ship does not make a passing grade, it cannot sail until it corrects the issues noted. The cruise lines want as many cruise ships sailing as possible, especially after so many months of non-sailing. All cruise lines are subjected to two unannounced CDC inspections per year.
2. The CDC, themselves, report that GI illness are relatively infrequent onboard cruise ships. During a recent six-year period 74 million passengers sailed on cruise ships. Of that number, only 129,678 passengers developed an acute gastric illness. It has been reported that only 0.003 percent of passengers experienced norovirus. What other industries are required to make these reports? Certainly not the airline or hotel industries. As such, more outbreaks are reported more frequently on cruise ships than on land, not that they occur more frequently on cruise ships. It’s just the land outbreaks go unreported.
Guests on board ships are paying scrupulous attention to how clean the ships are. The media appear to be biased against the cruise line industry, because hey, bad news sells. One of the reasons you’re likely a little nervous about boarding a cruise ship? Everywhere you look, it might seem like the media is portraying this way of travel as highly unsafe, pointing to cases of acute GI illnesses (noroviruses) that have been found onboard.
3. One benefit that’s come out of the media’s negative portrayal of modern cruise lines, it’s that the reports have led passengers to become even more vigilant about their personal cleanliness and sanitation than ever before. Room attendants on every cruise line are responsible for disinfecting high-touch areas every day. Additionally, common use areas like restaurants and bars, are cleaned multiple times per day. The same staff members note that the bathroom in a cruise ship’s cabin has around 400 times fewer bacteria than you’ll find on your office desk at work.
4. Social distancing procedures are in effect. Recent guidelines that require you to maintain six feet of personal space is encouraged. This can help the spread of corona viruses as well as other illnesses, including noroviruses. In this way, cruises have a marked benefit over other types of vacation experiences, as no hotel, restaurant or nightclub can boast the same square footage. The best part? When you book a cruise, there are also plenty of opportunities to go outdoors, where most experts agree that the risk of virus transmission is due to the fresh air and opportunity to adhere to that six-foot rule.
5. Innovative and advanced cleaning solutions are in place. Another reason why you shouldn’t think twice about booking a cruise? In response to the recent pandemic, staff members are embracing cleaning products and approaches that are more innovative and effective than ever before. This includes the use of some of the industry’s heaviest-grade disinfectants. One cruise line, for instance, is spraying its ships (and all ships that fall under its brand umbrella) with a special cleaning solution called Virox to keep passengers safe and protected. Representatives explain that Virox is designed to kill coronavirus in only 30 seconds when applied to hard surfaces. When used in combination with the line’s already-established cleaning procedures, it delivers a powerful approach that leaves little behind.
6. The crew is well trained. Industrial-strength cleaning products are only part of the solution. They are only effective if the people using and applying them are trained and qualified. This is another area in which cruise lines go above and beyond. Not only are cruise ship staff members trained in first aid, but they’re also well-versed on their ship’s specific public health policies. In addition to the initial training, they receive when they first join, they also attend regular refresher training sessions to make sure they’re up-to-date on the latest health and wellness procedures. The crew is ready to respond when an emergency strikes and are also detail-oriented experts in everyday maintenance, sanitation, and upkeep. Every cruise ship must always have licensed physicians and registered nurses available.
7. Procedures designed to screen passengers prior to boarding are in place. In addition to explaining if you or your traveling companion have had any recent symptoms of illness, you can also expect on-board temperature checks and other advanced steps surrounding embarkation and debarkation. A few of the procedures already established by some lines include capacity control, requiring staff members to wear masks, enforcing social distancing, disinfecting passenger luggage, and online check-ins.
8. They will isolate any passengers that they suspect to be afflicted by a contagious disease. This is to minimize the risk of contracting the disease for others on board. As soon as anyone shows any signs of being ill, they have access to immediate, top-of-the-line care. All cruise ships are required to have an examination room on board, as well as an intensive care room. There is equipment and procedures for processing labs, administering medications, and keeping a close watch on patient vital signs.
9. While the media reports about cruise lines may be grossly misrepresentative, they have motivated crew members to be more focused on customer satisfaction to quell any concerns and ease anxieties about this form of vacationing.
10. The bottom of a Petri dish is usually coated with a thin layer of agar or agarose gel and left undisturbed for a lengthy period to allow germs to grow. The point of a petri dish is to encourage germ growth, while cruise ships are just the opposite. Cruise ship floors are usually made of tile or carpet, and they’re cleaned multiple times per day.
11. Cruise ships require 95-100% of passengers to be vaccinated against corona virus. Then, the passengers are required to be tested to see if they are carrying the virus since there are some who are vaccinated that are asymptomatic carriers. On top of that, in many areas passengers are encouraged to wear masks in indoor spaces. Even if it is not mandatory to wear a mask while being vaccinated, no one is going to stop you if you decide to wear a mask to decrease your anxiety level. This is all on top of the cleaning and social distancing procedures put in place. I don’t know of any other situation that has this many layers of protection put into place.
12. THAT, my friends, is why it is a MYTH that cruise ships are a floating petri dish.
#cruising #healthandsafety #protocols #cruisesafety