Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sail Away From Civitavecchia

Star Princess Prepares to 
Sail from Civitavechia, Italy

Having completed our two-night pre-cruise stay in Rome, Italy, and our train ride to the pier, we were anxious to get on board the Star Princess for the actual cruise portion of our vacation.   These next posts will describe our Mediterranean adventure in detail.  We hope you enjoy your virtual cruise of the Mediterranean and Greek Isles.

Monday, May 30th was a beautiful day in Civitavecchi, Italy, as the Star Princess prepared to depart on its 12-Night journey to the Mediterranean ports with a special emphasis on the Greek Isles.

Passengers were up on the outside decks, soaking in the sun's rays and watching as last minute activities took place getting ready for our departure.   

As it turned out, we were not on deck when the actual sail-away took place, because we had early seating dinner (6 PM).  The ship departed shortly after that.

There were still some people in the pool as Star Princess was concluding final preparations for our departure.  The sun would be out for several more hours yet, so if you didn't have to be at dinner, there was certainly no rush to leave.

We had already completed the mandatory safety drill, where we learned about a situation that occurred on the previous sailing, which would have an impact on us for the first few days.   There had been an increased report of gastrointestinal illness on the last cruise, attributed to people eating meals on shore.   Consequently, the ship had undergone an extensive sanitation process when it docked in Civitavecchia.   

In addition to the sanitation, special food handling procedures had been put in place.   We hadn't paid much attention to it when we first got onboard, but after we heard the announcement during the safety drill, things made sense.

In the buffet, as well as other food venues, the wait staff was serving food.   Passengers were not allowed to handle food on the serving line - this included even such things as rolls and condiments.   After two full days, the ban was lifted and life onboard returned to normal with no outbreaks during our cruise.   While it was inconvenient for the first days, taking longer to get through the food line for example, we commend Princess Cruises for proactively handling the situation to prevent any further problems on our cruise.

Welcome aboard ... the Mediterranean adventure begins in earnest now.  Be sure to visit both our blog and Facebook Fan page often for more stories and photos of our journey.

Additional Reading:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (advice about any health advisories here and abroad)
Traveler's Health (CDC Travel specific topics)
Facts About Noroviruses on Cruise Ships  -  gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses can be prevented
Wash hands often. Wash hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before eating or preparing food.  Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer along with hand washing.
Norovirus outbreaks, when they occur on a cruise ship, always make the news.  The truth is these outbreaks can occur anywhere there are groups of people in a small area such as nursing homes, restaurants, catered events, hotels, and cruise ships.
 Vessel Sanitation Program - prevention and control of spread of gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on cruise ships

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