Day 1: Boarding Oceania cruise complicated by norovirus cleanup

Oceania Riviera docked at the Grand Turk Cruise Center
Oceania Riviera docked at the Grand Turk Cruise Center

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.

Raw food culinary demo during the day at sea was very entertaining
Raw food culinary demo during the day at sea was very entertaining

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.

Who knew you could make maki/sushi/tamaki "rice" from carrots and cauliflower?
Who knew you could make maki/sushi/tamaki “rice” from carrots and cauliflower?

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

4 thoughts on “Day 1: Boarding Oceania cruise complicated by norovirus cleanup”

  1. Hmmmmm. . . This was my cruise and I am home safely and well. However, the trip did not go at all as planned. Constant sanitizing, laundry closed (yikes – and a $25 fee to launder 20 items), and Captain’s depressing announcements on the 2 or 3 people still ill, did not make for a relaxing holiday. The staff really did their best (despite horrible planning for day 1 and a corporate decision to not tell us for 2 days that people were still ill on board). I’m a repeat guest, but this was not great cruise for the price. I’m also curious – on other cruises, Christmas decorations usually come up by this time, but not so much as a jingle bell this trip. I know everyone was constantly busy sanitizing, but surely a mini tree on the reception desk was in order.

    • Hello…I certainly shared many of your concerns. Oceania did not do as much as I thought they should for the many inconveniences to their passengers.

      As for the decorations, my experience is that they don’t usually go up until after Dec. 12-15….

      Thanks for reading, Cindy Janssens, Editor, AllThingsCruise

  2. Recently came off 2 days early from the Riviera because of norovirus. Ship should not be allowed to sail until situation cleaned up/ They knew of the situation before sailing. I hope the government makes them pay for the discomfort they cause.

  3. March 20 started the cruise from hell. Thirty-six hours after we boarded the Oceania ship we were sick along with 100 fellow passengers. We were quarantined and not permitted to go on excursions. Passengers who wanted to get off ship were met with resistance. The only nice thing was the weather. They would have ruined that if they could have.


Leave a Comment

Trusted by over 1.5 million cruisers since 2003.
Get FREE access to members-only pricing.
There is a highly acclaimed way to receive multiple quotes from a site called CruiseCompete, where cruise specialists compete to offer you the best deal. The media sums it up for CruiseCompete:
Score Luxury Cruises at Bargain Prices” (The Street)
Best site for cruise deals” (The Wall Street Journal)
28 Best Travel Sites” (Kiplinger's) Multiple annual mentions
36 Web Addresses You Should Know” (The Washington Post)