Ever Wonder How Clean Your Cruise Ship Will Be? I think I know a way to find out. Plus Top 10 suggestions.

News groups and “news bloggers” like Yahoo and such enjoy posting items that slam certain companies. Norovirus on cruise ships is always popular for some odd reason. With the most recent Corona Novel Virus it is even more popular to pick on cruise lines. Some of it is valid because being on a cruise ship, in a college dorm, military barracks or other close quarters can also virus from Norovirus to MRSA to spread quickly.

So let’s say you are thinking of booking a cruise or have one booked but are a germophobe. Now there is a way you can do more research on the ship you have in mind.

You can go to the CDC and search for your cruise ship to see the most recent scores. Keep in mind these are like restaurant scores. A ship can do poorly on a given day but do perfect on another if the timing is bad. Imagine a cruise ship with a broken dishwasher and a kid in the pool in his diaper (not the fault of the cruise line) and could get a failing score. https://wwwn.cdc.gov/InspectionQueryTool/InspectionSearch.aspx

On the CDC site you’ll find the “Green Sheet” which are good scores of ships. You can drill down to find all sorts of data.

You can also find the ships that got a perfect score of 100 !!

MY TOP 10 WAYS TO “TRY” AND AVOID GETTING SICK ON A CRUISE:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water, A LOT.
  2. Don’t rely only on the hand sanitizer stations to clean your hands. These help but some won’t kill virus germs.
  3. Be careful what you eat in port. Sure the ship might not be perfect much like your favorite restaurant on land but eating the cool hipster jerk chicken street taco from the beach vendor in Progresso Mexico might not be your best move.
  4. Bring a tiny spray can of Lysol with you and spray your room down when you first get to your cabin. You don’t know who was in there a few hours prior. The staff does a great job of cleaning but they can’t be perfect. Why do you think they wear rubber gloves all the time. They aren’t cheap but mini cans of Lysol can be found in the travel products section at many stores. If you can’t do that at least take Wet Wipes and clean the door handles, light switches, remote control, sink handle, toilet handle, etc.
  5. Avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth if you haven’t just washed your hands. Even Kate Winslet warns about this in the movie Contagion and she still dies in the movie.
  6. Use the paper door opener napkins by public bathrooms when available. Just because you wash your hands doesn’t mean the person who left the bathroom prior to you did.
  7. Try to avoid using the tongs in the buffet line if possible. This one is ultra hard and the staff cleans and replaces these often but germs can spread with using these. If you must use them try to wipe your hands or clean them before you eat with your hands or just use a fork and spoon only.
  8. Get plenty of rest and limit alcohol. Sure we all want to think that drinking enough Bahama Mama’s at the poor bar will kill the germs in your system (see number 3 above) but it really will just make you hung over and tired.
  9. Don’t drink or even wash your teeth with the tap water in your room. The plumbing systems on ships is complex and the water isn’t always what your body is used to at home. This can lead to minor stomach issues at best. I like to hand a tag or something on the sink to remind me to only use it for hand washing, etc.
  10. Wash your hands. 15 seconds or more with soap and water is your best friend.

OK so now your are prepared to book your cruise. Do me a favor and go to my favorite booking agent: Cruises and Castles Travel

Cruising and cell phones don’t mix PSA

For those that have been on cruises before you either know this or have learned this but….cell phones and cruise ships don’t always mix. This is for a variety of reasons. Cruise ships are fancy floating hotels. It’s awesome because you don’t have to unpack more than once and when you wake up each morning you are at a new destination. It’s like a dream.
IMG_0775
In reality cruise ships are made of metal. Each cabin has metal walls and ceilings and floors so cell phone and computer signals are weak anyway. In addition since the ship leaves the country and is at sea it is away from cell towers once you can’t see land. The cruise lines figured out a long time ago that this is a money making area. So they installed cell phone transmission equipment so you can use a cell phone while on-board in many areas. The problem is that it’s expensive as shown in the article below. There is a balance though. Basically you can use your cell phone while in US ports just like you do now, although signal strength below deck can be bad because, well….it’s metal like I said.
Once you leave land you are at the mercy of the cruise ship roaming rates. Once you reach a new port you can roam on that country’s cell phone providers which is a mixed bag that you need to check with your provider on. Usually it cost more but maybe not as bad as the ship.  Keep in mind that most USA cell phone providers have USA service in ports you would think of like Long Beach, Miami, New York but ports like Key West, San Juan are still part of the USA so roaming while there is not usually an issue it’s part of the USA after all. 
Internet is a whole different animal. Cruise ships offer internet plans for a price and the speed is often not great, like dial up modem speed at times, although technology is getting better. So what is the best plan of action? What my wife and I do is make our last minute texts, facebook posts, phone calls at the port before leaving the USA. Then just before we say Bon Voyage we turn our phones to airplane mode. Most phones have this option and it will allow you to manually turn on wifi later if needed on the ship. It’s almost a ritual that says we are unplugging and starting our vacation. We then would use wifi for short sessions just to do a quick check of email so we know everything is OK back home and have peace of mind.
Another option in ports can be free wifi at restaurants, cafe’s, hotels, etc. This is becoming much more common than in the old days of the internet cafe Jason Bourne hangout days. Plus cheaper, as in free. Just keep in mind that these are public wifi areas in foreign port of call so it may not be too wise to log into your facebook, email, bank, etc. without using a VPN or really at all in my opinion. Plus remember that what happens at the Senor Frog’s beach bar in Cozumel at 5pm needs to stay at the Senor Frog’s.
One newer option with decent speed on free public wifi can be voice internet calling platform apps on mobile devices like Google Voice apps or even your own cell phone’s voice over wifi option. This can allow voice calls for free if unlocked on your device. That way you can leave a voicemail for Grandma who is baby sitting since she never picks up the phone anyway 🙂 “Hi Grandma, we just thought we’d call and “try” to talk to our kids for minute while we are in Grand Turk away from the beach leaving you another voicemail. I guess everything is OK since you posted that video of your cat on facebook yesterday that took us 20 minutes and $30 of internet ship charges to watch. Love you, we’ll try again when we reach Saint Marten. “
In addition we usually leave instructions with our family at home on how to contact the cruise line in a major emergency. Here is more info on that from carnival: https://help.carnival.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1139/~/calling-home
 
Here is the link to information from Cruise Critic which is a great resource:

KLM changes St. Maarten Aircraft !! No more 747’s

airport beach insel air

 

Big fans of Maho Beach (Airport Beach in St. Maarten) are going to be disappointed that KLM is splitting the service to St. Maarten and Curacao and more shocking (but not surprising) is that they are replacing the 747-400 with an A330-200.  This is still a large jet but not as special as the 747 in my opinion.

This was reported by www.routesonline.com which is a great source for this sort of news. HT to Jim Liu for finding this.

KLM Splits Curacao   St. Maarten Service in W16    Routesonline

airport beach waiting for planes

Maho Beach patrons waiting for the 747. The highlight of trips to this beach for sure.