Sailing under “Code Red”

Sailing under “Code Red”

We understand.  A captive group of people in any community dreads “the bug” but, for some reason, a cruise ship is particularly vulnerable.  A GI infection can be transmitted incredibly easily and anyone responsible for maintaining health in such circumstances must fear the worst.  As a result, all precautions are taken from the start.  On this ship, we were all issued with hand sanitiser spray and encouraged to wash our hands frequently.  The crew follow the highest standards of hygiene as a matter of routine, too, but from time to time, it strikes.  About ten days ago, the Captain announced that sufficient people had reported to the ship’s medical centre that he needed to issue a “Code Red” instruction.  Suddenly, we noticed changes; surprising changes in some cases, in order to bring it all under control.

At this point, I must say we – and our friends – are all fine and thankfully, none of us have been affected.  I think the numbers are still pretty small, too.  But until we manage to go 72 hours without a new case reported, then Code Red continues.

So what’s it like being on a cruise ship in these circumstances?

Well, the first thing is, we are not at all worried about catching it!  I know that even though we wash our hands and use the sanitiser, that’s not to say we might not succumb.  But with all the action being taken, heaven knows how it has carried on for so long.  One wonders, what more could anyone do?


Sad to say, the major inconvenience from our point of view is the closure of the launderette!  The send-it-out laundry charges have been halved for the duration, but it’s not only the cost, it’s the time it takes to turn something around too.  Much easier to rinse something through in the Scrubba…but then, no iron?

Sad smile

My problem just now was that the chef was preparing a particularly tasty pasta dish this lunchtime and I really enjoyed it. The trouble was, I didn’t intend to wear most of it down my shirt front    I could send my shirt out to be washed, but wouldn’t have it back for a couple of days, so I just washed out the necessary bits and hung it up in the hope that it won’t be too creased to wear again.

Oh man, I’d have loved to have put a load through the machine and drier to have it fresh and clean again.


Unsurprisingly, it’s in the restaurants where the differences are most noticeable.  The tables are bare – no cruet, sugar, flower – nothing.  A roll of cutlery instead of a nicely laid place setting.  Such a shame – the atmosphere is immediately affected by such small points, too.  In between each use of the table, it’s stripped completely and sprayed with sanitiser.  The chairs, too, especially those places where we’d put our hands – on the back and underneath.


In places where there would normally be an abundance of juices, fruit and other bits and pieces to help ourselves to, there’s an empty space.


The normally groaning bread selection is empty too.  Of course these things are still available, but they are behind the counter and we have to ask for what we’d like.  No great hardship, of course, except that it’s good to be tempted by that yummy looking foccacia bread, or to get a bit more orange juice.  When it involves asking someone to go out of their way to get it for me, I think again.  Yes, I know it’s their job, but that’s not the point, is it?


Small quantities of things are out on the buffet, but these are served by a member of staff, too.  There is absolutely no “help yourself” anywhere.


Of course, additional work for the staff means that some extra pairs of hands have been brought in and all staff “fun” has been cancelled.  No Valentine’s party for them, then, which is such a shame as they are really taking the hit where Code Red in concerned.


For every door handle has to be sanitised regularly.


Every lift button


both outside and in.  And as you can see, it’s leaving a few traces behind.  Normally, this lift panel would be pristine and polished – not so right now.


The handrails have all been sanitised so much that some are losing the varnish.


Wherever we are, we are never out of sight of someone with a bucket and a cloth – and a cheerful smile, thank goodness. Even the books in the ships’s library have been carefully cleaned and each scrabble tile individually sanitised.


How is it that a bug can withstand such dedicated and thorough action?


Oh, and yes, the carpets are sprayed too.


Of course, we’re doing our bit too.  Even under “normal” conditions, we use the sanitising spray when going into any of the public rooms.  But now, in addition, members of the cast stand at the entrances to the theatre like armed guards, with sprays in hand – not really what they were expecting to do when they signed up, I’m sure!  Everyone – myself included – is using gallons of lotion because all of this stuff is so drying, but then we wash our hands again and….well.


As I walked back through the coffee shop just now, I noticed the tables are washed and left to dry.  Our hands will recover but it’ll take a while to get everything shipshape again.


And the jigsaw.  Normally, on this table leading to the coffee shop, there’s a big jigsaw underway.  People stop and put in a piece or two as they pass – or spend hours sitting working on it.

Not now.

I think, this morning we all shared the Captain’s frustration (again) as he announced that we’d gone 64 hours without any report, but last evening, sadly, there was a single new case.  So Code Red continues.

We understand Code Red, then.  We support all the actions being taken and take every opportunity to thank the staff who are doing everything they can to resolve it so we can return to “normal”.  But there’s no doubt, it is affecting us all and after twelve days of such rigorous cleaning, it’s beginning to try everyone’s patience.  But hopefully – h o p e f u l l y – all of this effort is taking effect and perhaps we have turned a corner.  Time will tell.


I think a pot of tea is needed.

Nice.  Very nice.

Nice. Very nice.

The end of the world

The end of the world