Sick at Sea, On Royal Carribean Cruise From Hell

We had previously cruised to all the Carribean countries, Alaska, and Mexico. So we thought we’d try a cruise that left from Baltimore, Maryland and cruised up to Portland, Maine, then on to Bar Harbor, Maine, followed by New Brunswick, Canada, Nova Scotia, Canada and back to Baltimore. 

We were so excited because it would be the first time that we’d celebrate our Anniversary on a cruise, and the cruise line said they were gonna do something really “special” for us.  We’d requested their “anytime dining,” so that we’d be able to go to dinner on our time and not miss the shows and other entertainment.  We prefer to eat alone and not with strangers, so a table for two was perfect. 

We drove to Baltimore the night before and stayed in a hotel that offered a “park and cruise” deal.  They shuttled us to the ship the following day, well before the ship was due to depart, around 4 pm.  We arrived at the ship around noon, so we could eat lunch before they conducted the God awful, mandatory muster station, lifeboat thingy. 

We unloaded our luggage with the porter and embarked the wonderful ship all ready for a wonderful experience,  But the first thing we noticed was that we were not on anytime dining.  Nope, it said right on our “sail and sign,” cards that we were scheduled for dinner at 8:00 pm, at a table for eight people. Um, no, that wasn’t going to work.  But we figured we’d deal with that later in the evening. 

We were excited that our first day would be a day at sea.  Lots of time to relax and enjoy the great food aboard the cruise ship.  We ate dinner the first evening and went to the show afterward.  

The next day we slept late, so the buffet wasn’t serving breakfast.  We went to a small area at the back of the ship, where it was still being served but, we were shocked at the lack of food the place had.  On Carnival, your food is always prepared fresh.  But here, the food was just sitting out.  There were egg muffins just sitting there behind the counter, along with some tuna sandwiches that had been pre-made and were just hanging out.  

Since the egg muffins were the only thing they had that was breakfast food, we told the chef guy to hand them over, and we headed to a table to chow-down.  We noticed the eggs were runny, but by that time we were starving and ate them in a hurry, 

A few hours later, my husband began to feel a bit nauseous, but we still ate dinner and had an early night.    Now, you have to know my husband to know that there’re few things that will knock him down.  He doesn’t get sick easily, and he never complains when he is sick. But this time he told me he felt completely horrible.  We went back to the cabin and laid down before dinner, hoping he would feel a bit better. We figured that maybe he hadn’t gotten his sea legs just yet, and that’s why he was a bit queasy. 

Several hours went by, and he continued to get worse.  He was quite nauseous and during the night, he got up a couple of times to use the toilet.  He flushed the toilet twice around 4 am.  Around 9 am the phone rang in our cabin and the voice on the other end addressed him by name and asked him if he was feeling alright.  He told her he felt a bit nauseous, but would be okay.  When he hung up the phone he had a puzzled look on his face and he told me that he didn’t understand how they would know he was sick, considering neither of us had left the room since the night prior. 

I began to worry that maybe there was an outbreak on the ship, or they had fed us, (along with a bunch of others), some tainted food. Maybe there were others who had reported feeling ill.  So I decided to call down to the medical department and ask them, (as if they’d tell me anyway). But I was convinced they were hiding something from us, and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. 

When I called, I was greeted by a South African woman’s voice and explained to her that someone had called our room inquiring about the health of my husband. She would not allow me to talk, but told me I needed to bring him down to be examined by the doctor. I agreed but told her that we would not pay them for the exam. I also made it clear that they needed to to hurry up and get it done because we’d already arrived in Portland, Maine and wanted to get off the ship. 

When we arrived at the clinic, we were rushed in to see the doctor, and my husband was told to fill out some forms.  The form asked him specifics about his symptoms:  Had he vomited? Did he have Diarrhea? What he had eaten and when his symptoms began…etc.  Now, I forgot to mention that my husband I are both nurses and we both agreed that this was classic salmonella poisoning.  

The doctor was a Columbian woman. She never laid a finger on my husband to “examine him.”  She told my husband that he had a “stomach flu.”  and that we both needed to be confined to our cabin for at least 24-hours.  I thought I was hearing things.  First of all “stomach flu,” is not a real diagnosis, it’s more like code for food poisoning. But she didn’t want to make the ship look bad, so she called it something else.  I was astonished that she would confine both of us to our room for something that was their fault, and food poisoning is NOT contagious.  

We asked her how they knew he was sick since we had not been out of the cabin the evening before. She claimed that the stewards were trained to check for diarrhea in the toilet, and they report it back to the medical staff.  Um, no, that would be a lie since we never left the room, nor did he come in to clean it.  She then said that the steward heard my husband flushing the toilet. Wrong again lady. He only flushed the toilet twice and both times were in the middle of the night. So if the steward is standing by the door at 4 am to listen for the toilet flushing, there are more problems than we even know on this ship.   She then said that the public restrooms are checked regularly, and he must have used one of those. Um, no again!

It seemed more likely to me that there was an outbreak of food poisoning on the ship, and they were calling people who ate the tainted food to check on them. It also seemed to me that because a ship is a confined area,  they didn’t want us gathering with other guests and discussing the situation, causing a frenzy on the ship. 

We were furious, and we let our feelings be known. She said that she understood our frustration but that we had to stay in our cabin and miss (at least), the first port-of-call in Maine.  I had always wanted to visit Maine, but I guess it was going to have to be another time.  I wasn’t even sick, but I still had to stay in the cabin and call room service for my food.  

We asked her about reimbursement for the port we were missing and told her we wanted a refund for that day. She said that Royal Carribean didn’t reimburse, but that they would give us credit for the days that we would be confined, and we could use it on another cruise.  Thanks, but no thanks.  Way to go Royal Carribean on stealing people’s hard earned money. 

My husband was told he could only eat the brat diet. For those of you that are not familiar with this diet, its bananas, rice (plain white rice), applesauce and toast, (yep, you guessed it, plain toast).  He was not to eat anything else, nor would they bring him anything else. 

We went back to the cabin like good little patients and the next 24 were pure hell.  When I ordered room service for myself, I tried to order my husband some fruit, because that’s what he wanted to eat. They refused to give him any, citing what the doctor had told us. So I ordered it for myself and gave it to him. The best thing you can do with someone who is suffering from salmonellosis is to allow them to eat when they’re ready and give them what they’re willing to eat, as long as it’s light and not fried. But, apparently they didn’t get that memo.  

If you want the internet on a ship, you have to pay quite a large fee, so we’ve never used it.  Instead, we choose to wait and use our computers when we arrive in the ports, to save ourselves a few bucks.  Since we were going to be confined to our tiny, inside cabin, with no windows,  we believed it would be the least they could do, to provide us with free internet for the day in question.  But they yelled and screamed down the phone at me when I asked them for it.  The woman on the phone told me that I was disrespectful and demanding.  Really? You demand that we stay in the room, tell us what we can and cannot eat and refuse to give us the internet, and I’m demanding?  Finally, we reached someone who agreed to provide for us at no charge. 

They brought our food on paper plates, and there was a large red hazardous bag on the tray.  How appetizing. The room-service guy was petrified and stood all the way back in the hall, holding the food tray at arms length from me, afraid I was going to give him the most horrible case of food poisoning imaginable.  I couldn’t believe how badly we were treated.  They gave my husband the worst case of salmonellosis he could have, then added insult to injury by treating us like criminals. 

Our room wasn’t cleaned but was completely sanitized when we finally were allowed to disembark. We were treated as if we had Ebola.  Our only reward for this torture was that we were credited for the day we spent in hell, so we could take another cruise with them. Are they crazy? Neither I nor my husband will ever be on another Royal Carribean cruise. 

As sick as my husband was, all he kept saying was that he was concerned for the elderly on the ship.  There were a lot of elderly folks on there and if they’d have gotten a dose of this crap they could have died. 

Now, I understand that people get sick, and when there are thousands of people on what is essentially a floating petri-dish, then the odds are pretty good that you will catch something.  But the way this situation was handled by Royal Carribean and the fact that they refused to reimburse us for ruining our trip was terrible.  Please Royal Carribean, cook your food and don’t leave it sitting out for hours, making people violently ill.  Your guests deserve better.  Don’t promise guests that you’ll do something “special” for their anniversary, when, in fact, all they’ll get is a nasty dose of food poisoning on the cruise from hell. 

If you’re contemplating taking a cruise, stick with Carnival. Your stomach with thank you for it!

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