Archive for October, 2009

People ask: On my cruise, should I worry about… Swine flu?

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

People ask us all the time: “Should I worry about Swine Flu (H1N1) on a cruise?Well, cruise vacations are a time for fun, relaxation and celebration, and are definitely not a time to be sick with the flu.Of course, the cruise lines want their passengers and crew to stay healthy too.  After all, you can’t have spend money when you’re confined to your stateroom!  (Except maybe on Celebrity and others where the interactive TV system allows you to gamble from the comfort of your room, but that’s another topic…)The cruise lines have already taken a number of important steps to help keep their crews and guests healthy as the H1N1 flu continues to spread around the globe.For example, in May 2009, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced new screening procedures to help protect the health of cruise passengers.Under the new policy, all passengers must complete and sign a written questionnaire prior to boarding a ship that belongs to a CLIA member cruise line. If a passenger reports any flu-like symptoms on the questionnaire, the crew conducts a secondary screening and medical personnel decide if the passenger will be permitted to board the ship. These policies are similar to those set in place during the SARS epidemic a few years ago.Of course, people may not be completely truthful when they complete these forms, but at least it will get people thinking (I hope) before they board their ship – and maybe even encourage them to wash their hands more often?Passengers who develop flu-like symptoms – such as fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat – while on a cruise are treated by the onboard medical staff.These passengers may be isolated in their staterooms to prevent the spread of the virus on the ship. If appropriate and practical, these passengers may also disembark at a scheduled port of call.Cruise lines’ precautions and policies regarding H1N1 flu are in addition to the comprehensive sanitation and public health practices already in place on cruise ships. These include the use of disinfectants; surveillance and treatment of passengers with communicable illnesses; isolation of sick passengers; food safety protocols; and consultation with public health authorities.Cruise lines will continue to closely monitor and appropriately respond to the continuing outbreak of H1N1 flu.What’s important meanwhile?  Don’t worry too much and certainly don’t let the fear of H1N1 ruin your vacation.  Instead, wash your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, after you’ve just taken food from a buffet (lots of hands hold those serving utensils!)  and before meals.