‘We were treated like toxic cargo on our Covid-hit anniversary cruise’

iceland cruise stuck on board covid coronavirus

iceland cruise stuck on board covid coronavirus

Maurice Flynn’s long-awaited birthday cruise turned into a trip from hell this week when he contracted Covid and was transferred to a tiny room and treated as “toxic shipping”.

Flynn, 46, a business journalist from Marlborough, Wiltshire, and her husband departed Southampton on the Enchanted Princess on July 21 for a two-week cruise of Iceland and Norway. It was the couple’s third attempt at a vacation after Covid cancellations and family illness, and after a grueling year spent hopping on Airbnbs between homes.

“We recently moved in close to my elderly father who suffers from dementia and only received the keys to our new house a week before he left,” he says. “So we needed a vacation more than ever.”

“My husband originally booked this for our anniversary in March. We traveled in Club Class with a complete suite including drinks package. It’s hard to quantify the cost because of the rebooking, but we spent around £6,500 plus an additional $1,200 on tours,” says Flynn.

cruise cabin on board

cruise cabin on board

“For the most part, it’s been brilliant. Norway and Iceland are breathtaking, the crew on board is very friendly, but disaster struck on the ninth day and we went from people to toxic cargo – and while we haven’t taken many cruises, we’ve never experienced this level of dehumanization.”

Under Covid’s strict pre-departure policy, the couple were required to take an on-camera antigen test to prove they were healthy and fit to participate in the trip. But once aboard, Flynn says the ship’s hygiene policy was less impressive with the crew seemingly unconcerned about maintaining advertised standards.

“The ship has docked at seven different ports in three countries and passengers are not retested every time they disembark and return, and we have noticed how many hand sanitizer dispensers are broken or empty. There are no visible signs of high-traffic areas, such as elevator buttons and handrails being cleaned during or after peak hours, and no hand-washing imposition before the buffet, although sinks are provided for this purpose,” says Flynn.

When the 46-year-old man had a fever on Sunday (July 31), he immediately told the medical center, tested for Covid and came back negative. He chose to isolate himself, however – aware that other passengers were not in as robust health as he and his husband.

“The next morning I felt much better, but I have now tested positive – although I have not been shown the test result – and we were told that I had to be transferred to quarantine and that my husband, as a close contact, could stay in our house. room or come with me. Naturally, we decided to stay together,” explains Flynn.

covid cruise coronavirus isolation

covid cruise coronavirus isolation

“We had some time to pack and then we were escorted from our 34 m² room on deck 17 with balcony, indoor living area, bathroom and separate toilet, to deck 9, a 15 m² room with two beds single bed and a dressing table covered with sanitizing equipment, but nowhere to sit or eat except in bed. Luckily the room had a small balcony so we at least had access to fresh air but no space to move or walk.”

While the couple was left with six bottles of water, all drinks and food ordered in the room were now being charged to the bill – despite having been booked on an all-inclusive package.

“We weren’t drinking alcohol so I’m talking cola here – we sat there watching every load hit our bill on board as we went and the food, when it arrived, was cold,” says Flynn. “We had to put the living room footstool in the hallway so the staff could put our meals on it, and as time went on we saw more and more footstools popping up outside the rooms in this hallway – until it filled up and the inner rooms had none. porch began to fill.”

He says: “There was no concern for my health – we were locked away to sweat out our illness alone. Under their Covid policy, it doesn’t say you will be stripped of your passenger status and effectively thrown on a prison deck. At no time did we try to escape isolation, we are actively happy to isolate for the protection of others, but they sent a clear message that if you are honest with Princess and declare any illness, your vacation will be over and so will yours. right to be treated as a person and not as a freight.”

covid isolation cruise cabin

covid isolation cruise cabin

After two days on Deck 9 and getting nowhere trying to reason with the crew on board, Flynn got in touch with the Telegraph and Princess media relations team, and the couple went last night (Tuesday, August 2) moved back to its original Deck 17 suite – and extra food and beverage charges taken from your account.

“The doctor told us this morning that Deck 9 is separately ventilated, so the goal is to confine any illness,” says Flynn. “We were also told that we will be tested again the night before disembarkation and if it is negative we can leave with the other passengers, if it is positive we will leave with the Covid passengers. I am not allowed to speak to anyone else with Covid because of course we are isolating ourselves.”

A Princess Cruises spokesperson said: “The health and safety of our guests and crew is of the utmost importance and we continue to operate in accordance with government health guidelines that regulate the cruise industry and monitor all cruise ships. where there are positive cases identified on board. . In accordance with this guidance, when any guest or crew member tests positive on board, those passengers are isolated while monitored and cared for by our onboard medical staff. In the case of Flynn and her husband, these established protocols were followed in an effort to maximize containment on board.

“We apologize to Mr. Flynn and her husband for the inconvenience and per our passenger agreement we are refunding 100% of cruise days lost in quarantine with a future cruise credit as well as a full refund to your onboard account. for missed pre-paid onboard experiences and shore excursions purchased through the cruise line.”

The couple’s experience illustrates how, despite Covid rules being scrapped around the world, cruise vacations continue to be governed by strict protocols. Testing and vaccine requirements are still in place, and as Flynn’s story reveals, for those unfortunate enough to actually catch the virus, a rather unpleasant experience can be the result.

It seems the industry is stuck between a rock and a hard place. While some passengers prefer a relaxation of the rules – and several have contacted Telegraph Travel criticizing the lingering restrictions – others undoubtedly prefer a cautious approach. After all, a typical cruise passenger is older, and therefore likely more vulnerable to Covid, than the average tourist.

What Covid rules are still in effect on cruise ships?

It depends on which cruise line you travel, but P&O Cruises’ rules are typical: all passengers 12 years and older must have two jabs, or, if they are 16 or older and their second dose was more than 270 days earlier, three. All people aged five and over must also provide evidence of at least one negative test – something that typically costs in the range of £30 to £50 per person. All of this applies whether the ship’s itinerary is limited to British waters or only visiting destinations that have eliminated all of their entry restrictions.

Princess Cruises has loosened its rules a bit, with unvaccinated passengers now allowed – but only in limited circumstances and if they take an extra test before departure.

Virgin Voyages recently became one of the first cruise lines to drop testing. They still require the majority (90%) of passengers to be vaccinated.

What happens if I catch Covid on board?

Exact protocols vary, but if Covid is suspected or tested positive, isolation will almost certainly be necessary.

The Princess Cruises website explains: “Anyone reporting or exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 will be reviewed by the onboard medical staff and tested. Covid-19 cases will be evaluated and treated in your cabin or in a designated area of ​​the Medical Center in a single occupancy wing.

“Positive cases that do not require admission to the ship’s medical center or medical disembarkation will likely be transferred to a different cabin during isolation.”

Royal Caribbean International states: “A guest who tests positive for Covid-19 will need to isolate themselves on board for a period of time – until they can safely disembark at a port of call with private transportation home, or when the voyage ends in the port of origin where it started. Guests who reach the threshold to be considered a close contact will need to meet the necessary quarantine and/or testing requirements based on their vaccination status.

“Guests who must self-isolate due to a positive Covid-19 test result will either remain in their cabin or be transferred to a cabin near the medical center where medical staff and Guest Services will check them in regularly, depending on availability. Complimentary amenities including room service and WiFi will be provided.”

Am I entitled to compensation if I contract the virus on board?

All major cruise lines have policies in place to compensate customers if they are forced to spend time on board in quarantine. This will either be a voucher or a refund.

Princess Cruises states: “If you or your immediate travel group tests positive while on board, you will receive a future cruise credit worth 100% of the cruise fare per day for missed days and a refundable credit to your account. board for prepaid lost. onboard experiences and shore excursions purchased through the cruise line.”

What if I get Covid before we leave and I can’t travel?

If you contract Covid in the period leading up to your departure, your rights depend on who you are sailing with. For example, Royal Caribbean International will refund 100% of the fare, while Cunard explains: your booking for any Cunard voyage currently on sale, for a voyage of greater or lesser value, an unlimited number of times with no management fees.”

Would you go on a cruise vacation this year? Or would you rather wait until more restrictions are lifted on board? Please let us know in the comments

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