“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

A long-awaited anniversary cruise for Maurice Flynn turned into a trip from hell this week when he contracted Covid and was moved to a small room and treated as “toxic cargo”.

Flynn, 46, a business journalist from Marlborough, Wiltshire, and his husband left Southampton on the Enchanted Princess on July 21 for a two-week cruise around Iceland and Norway. It was the couple’s third attempt to take a holiday after Covid cancellations and family illness, and after a grueling year of bouncing around Airbnbs between houses.

“We recently moved to be near my aging dad who suffers from dementia and only got the keys to the new house the week before he left,” he says. “So we needed a vacation more than ever.”

“My husband originally ordered this for our anniversary in March. We travel in Club Class with a complete suite including drinks package. It’s hard to quantify costs because of the rebooking, but we spent around £6,500 plus another $1,200 on excursions, says Flynn.

cruise cabin on board

cruise cabin on board

“For the most part it has been brilliant. Norway and Iceland are breathtaking, the crew on board are very friendly, but then disaster struck on day nine and we went from feeling human to toxic cargo – and although we haven’t done many cruises, we’ve never experienced this level before . of dehumanization.”

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

“The ship docked at seven different ports in three countries and passengers are not re-tested every time they disembark and re-embark, and we have recorded how many hand sanitiser dispensers are broken or empty. There are no visible signs in high traffic areas such as lift buttons and railings that are cleaned at or after busy times, and also no hand washing before the buffet despite the fact that there is a sink for this purpose, says Flynn.

When the 46-year-old developed a fever on Sunday (31 July), he immediately told the medical centre, tested for Covid and was negative. However, he chose to isolate himself – aware that other passengers were not in as good health as he and his husband.

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

covid cruise coronavirus isolation

covid cruise coronavirus isolation

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

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

“We didn’t drink alcohol, so I’m talking Coke here – we sat there and watched every charge hit the bill on board as we left, and the food, when it came, was cold,” says Flynn. “We had to put the footstool from the room in the corridor so that the crew could place our meals on it, and as time went on we saw more and more footstools appear outside the rooms in this corridor – until it filled up and the interior rooms without the balcony began to be filled.”

He says: “There was no concern for my health – we were locked up to sweat out our illness alone. Under their Covid policy… it doesn’t say that you will be stripped of your passenger status and effectively thrown into a jail cell. At no point have we tried to avoid isolation, we are actively happy to isolate for the protection of others, but they have sent a clear message that if you are honest with Princess and declare illness, your holiday ends and so does your right to be treated as a person instead of freight.”

cabin cruise isolation covid

cabin cruise isolation covid

After two days on Deck 9 and nowhere to try to reason with the crew on board, Flynn contacted the Telegraph and Princess’ media relations team and the pair were last night (Tuesday 2 August) moved back to their original Deck 17 suite – and additional food and beverage charges removed from their account.

“We’ve been told by the doctor this morning that Deck 9 is ventilated separately, so the goal is to limit any illness,” says Flynn. “We have also been told that we will be tested again the night before we disembark and if I am negative we can travel with the other passengers, if I am positive we will go with the Covid passengers. I have not been allowed to talk to someone else with Covid because of course we isolate.”

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 guidance that regulates the cruise industry and monitor all cruise ships where positive cases have been identified on board. . In accordance with this guidance, when any guests or crew members test positive on board, those passengers are isolated while being monitored and cared for by our onboard medical team.In the case of Mr Flynn and his husband, the established protocols were followed in an attempt to maximize containment on board.

“We have apologized to Mr Flynn and his husband for the inconvenience and in accordance with our passenger contract we are refunding 100 per cent of the lost cruise days spent in quarantine with a Future Cruise Credit as well as a full refund to their onboard account for lost prepaid onboard experiences and excursions purchased through the cruise line.”

The couple’s experience illustrates how, despite Covid rules being scrapped around the world, cruise holidays remain governed by strict protocols. Testing and vaccination requirements are still in place, and as Flynn’s story reveals, for those unlucky enough to actually catch the virus, a pretty grim experience can result.

It seems the industry is caught between a rock and a hard place. While some passengers would prefer a relaxation of the rules – and a number have contacted Telegraph Travel criticizing the long-standing restrictions – others would no doubt prefer a cautious approach. After all, a typical cruise passenger is older, and therefore likely more vulnerable to Covid, than your average vacationer.

Which Covid rules are still in place on cruise ships?

It depends on which cruise line you travel with, but the rules for P&O Cruises are typical: all passengers aged 12 and over must have had two jabs, or if they are 16 or over and their second dose was more than 270 days before, three. Anyone aged five and over must also provide proof of at least one negative test – which usually costs in the region of £30-50 per person. All of this applies even if the ship’s itinerary is restricted to British waters, or only visiting destinations that have scrapped all their entry restrictions.

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

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

What happens if I catch Covid on board?

Exact protocols vary, but if you are suspected of having Covid, or test positive, you will almost certainly be required to isolate.

Princess Cruises’ website explains: “Anyone reporting or exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms will be reviewed by the onboard medical staff and tested. Covid-19 cases will be assessed and treated either in the cabin or in a designated area at the Medical Center in a single room ward.

“Positive cases that do not require admission to the ship’s medical center, or medical disembarkation, will most likely be moved to another cabin during isolation.”

Royal Caribbean International states: “A guest who tests positive for Covid-19 will have to self-isolate on board for a period of time – either until they can be safely disembarked at a port of call by private transport home, or when the sailing ends back at the home port where it started. Those guests who meet the threshold to be considered a close contact must meet necessary quarantine and/or testing requirements based on vaccination status.

“Guests who must self-isolate due to a positive Covid-19 test result will remain in their stateroom or be moved to a stateroom near the medical center where medical staff and guest services will check on them regularly, subject to availability. Complimentary amenities include room service and Wi -Fi will be given.”

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

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

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

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

If you contract Covid in the period leading up to departure, your rights depend on who you are sailing with. For example, Royal Caribbean International will refund 100 percent of the ticket price, while Cunard explains: “We appreciate that guests may be looking for a little extra flexibility with all bookings, and currently before the balance due date on any booking, guests can transfer their booking to any Cunard journey currently on sale, to a journey of higher or lower value, an unlimited number of times without administration costs.

Do you want to go on a cruise holiday this year? Or would you prefer to wait until more restrictions are lifted on board? Let us know in the comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.