With 64 cruises under my belt, I’ve usually been pretty lucky when it comes to requiring medical help onboard, even during a huge norovirus outbreak.
That all changed during my 65th and most recent cruise on Queen Victoria from Barcelona to Southampton.
I have what is supposed to be a temporary stoma after almost dying last year when my bowel was perforated and later ruptured after what should have been routine surgery. Since this I developed a humungous, crippling, parastomal hernia. Both of these, I was told in November 2016 by my surgeon, would be sorted at the beginning of April. Then he told me in June after lodging a complaint, it would be August.
My cruise was booked in January after All Leisure Group went bust and my 2 week Voyager cruise that same date cancelled, and paid off in July based on those words. Despite two pre-assessments and complaints, no date for surgery had ever been given. I decided to go and de-stress after the constant worry and pain of the past year.
Ironic then it was the hernia which led me to being confined after I began to get ill during our first sea day between Palma de Mallorca and Malaga. I felt better in Malaga but was bad again the following day in Gibraltar.
By the time we neared Lisbon 3 days later, I had to call someone, who misdiagnosed seasickness or a bug. A visit to the doctor after my confinement was lifted confirmed my diagnosis of possibly the beginnings of a strangulated hernia and also led to another bill. Thankfully AXA repaid all quickly bar the £25 excess.
You are given all sorts of paperwork for plague, even when you don’t have it and also a light menu to order from. It really is unappetising when you’ve been unwell and very dry. Specialist cleaners sanitise your room. Thankfully in my case it was only bathroom until I’d been freed then the entire cabin reeked, including bed covers.
It was an interesting experience, particularly as a solo traveller with no one to get anything for you. How many know you are not supposed to be charged if you order room service drinks when the medical team have confined you? I didn’t until one of the nurses told me. I had to constantly fight over that when they arrived, told I wouldn’t be charged after they checked but saw it included on my final bill so got it removed eventually with a little help from the letter for the insurance. Make sure you get one.
I have to say though, I was very impressed at how seriously Cunard take any sort of vomiting onboard one of their ships. There is too much finger pointing when there are outbreaks of norovirus but often, as many of you will all have seen, a lot don’t bother with hygiene then blame the cruise line when they fall ill. It was a relief not to have it, but know they need to be cautious.
Thankfully, in my case, I did get as better as I was able to so enjoyed the last two full days of the cruise.
My only complaint is lack of communication. You are given the same room service number you dial by pressing the dedicated button on the phone and they have no idea you have been confined.
In my view, there should be a separate room service number for medical confinement, say to the Purser’s Office. A note on your account could be added with the date of confinement and release. The Purser could then submit your order and make it clear to them drinks are free.
So if you are travelling alone and the doctor has said you are not allowed to leave your cabin, don’t forget to double check with them about room service drinks charges.
I wish you healthy, unconfined travels!