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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Preventing virus spread serious concern on cruise

The captain and officers aboard the Crystal Serenity refrained from shaking hands in receiving lines during my September cruise as one of the cruise line's many efforts to prevent the spread of viruses.
Hand washing takes on a new importance as those around us fall victim to the flu.  I'm also avoiding those shared baskets of crackers at wine tastings and bowls of chips and popcorn passed around at gatherings.

Not only is the flu laying folks low but there's also an intestinal virus and something like Noro virus going around. It's enough to make you stay home.

On my September Mediterranean cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity hand sanitizing was everywhere - as you entered dining areas, as you came back aboard the ship after shore excursions and even at a captain's reception, where a sign reminded us why he wouldn't be shaking  hands

We also observed ship's staff constantly cleaning railings, chairs and everything in sight. Gloves were worn not only by food service employees, but also by housekeepers,  bartenders and other members of the ship's staff. Each public washroom had a small paper towel dispenser next to the door with a small  sign designating a towel be used when opening the door.

Crystal wants to make sure a virus doesn't  get started aboard its ships.

I gained a good appreciation for the affects of a Noro virus when, along with about 300 others, I contracted it at a professional conference in Dallas. Within just a few hours we were falling like flies, and the local health department got involved while trying to determine if  our severe intestinal distress was related to food poisoning.

The conference was for travel writers and it included a good number of  folks 70 and older. Some of  them became so dehydrated they needed to be put on IVs. Noro virus was the diagnosis and most of us spent two or three days very close to the bathroom before the virus vanished as quickly as it occurred.

I can  only imagine how bad something like this would be on a cruise. Although I was among those complaining of dry hands because of all the sanitizer used during my Mediterranean voyage, applying hand lotion was certainly less of a problem than a Noro virus would have been.

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