ABOARD THE OCEANIA RIVIERA – We were forewarned. Two days ago we were sent an email by Oceania Cruises telling us that there had been an outbreak of norovirus on the previous cruise and that the ship would be undergoing thorough sanitization before we boarded yesterday. They said boarding would probably be delayed.
Which it was. By several hours.
This was not Oceania’s fault, of course. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has strict protocols for this process and the Coast Guard was involved, too. So the entire ship had to be “wiped down,” meaning everything – from stateroom walls to menu folders to chairs in the restaurants had to be cleaned.
The process was intensive and involved all the crew and as a result cabins and staterooms were not ready for occupancy at their usual times. The effect was chaotic, despite the best efforts of Oceania staff to control the process.
A further complication, for those of us who drove to the pier, was that the ship was not docked in its usual Terminal J. We arrived there to find it empty and we eventually located the ship at Terminal B. This meant we had to park in the C parking garage…which is a mile or so from the Terminal J lot.
So after waiting in a long line, and then for about two hours in a holding area — with only bottles of water and vending machines available — we boarded late, grabbed a snack, rushed to muster drill and then – as we were heading to dinner at Red Ginger for a 6:30 reservation, finally got word that our cabins were ready.
And actually they weren’t. Most paperwork and amenities were missing. There was no turndown. No ice. No “Currents” newsletter to plan our next day…it arrived under our door sometime in the night.
This was not a dire situation, by any means. And today they were working very hard to bring everything up to speed.
But we are still in “Code Red” for, like, five days. If no cases of norovirus appear during that time, then normal activity can be resumed. But, for now, the Culinary Center is closed, the Captain’s Introductions were postponed (no handshaking for now), tables in the bars and lido are sanitized after every use, salt and pepper shakers must be requested and are cleaned between uses…you get the idea. Hand sanitizer dispensers are everywhere.
Personally, I find this reassuring. This is the second time we have sailed on a ship right after a norovirus outbreak and a sanitized ship is probably the cleanest around.
But people are still grumbling a bit and wondering how Oceania is going to get us from Terminal J back to the C parking garage to pick up our cars on disembarkation day.
Today was a busy day at sea with all sorts of activities and lots of pool time for those who prefer that. Tonight everyone on board was treated to free drinks for two hours and that seemed to cheer the crowd. No one can stay grumpy for long on a lovely cruise!
December 3, 2016