No ill feelings
Passengers happy to be home from cruise; tout the work of staff in containing the illness
by By Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Feb 05, 2014 | 4879 views | 0 0 comments | 137 137 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BACK AT HOME – Explorer of the Seas docked at the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne a little before 2 p.m. on Jan. 29, a couple of days earlier than scheduled.
BACK AT HOME – Explorer of the Seas docked at the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne a little before 2 p.m. on Jan. 29, a couple of days earlier than scheduled.
Royal Caribbean Cruise line’s Explorer of the Seas returned to its home port in Bayonne on Jan. 29 after a gastrointestinal illness spread throughout the ship to nearly 700 passengers and crew, with many of those disembarking from the liner that day praising the efforts of ship employees who worked to keep the contagion in check.

As they were readying to leave the port’s passenger parking lot, Alan and Pearl Mottel of Plainview, N.Y., said they were happy to be off the ship, but that the crew handled the whole crisis well.

“There was no panic or anything,” said Pearl. “They were constantly sanitizing.”

The couple said that even dancers and skaters onboard had pitched in when it came to disinfecting, after they had finished their entertainment routines.

Beverly Sce of Yardley, Pa., concurred that the reaction to the situation was professional.

“The ship gave very clear direction on enhanced hygiene, handwashing, and use of hand sanitizer,” she said. “They were all over the ship, wiping down and disinfecting. It was handled extremely well.”

And Sce’s opinion shouldn’t be taken lightly. She is director of oral health for the New Jersey Department of Health in Trenton. She said that despite the onboard drama, her trip was not ruined.

“We had a wonderful experience,” Sce said. “I had a little nausea, and that was all.”

Steve Hynes of Rockville Center, N.Y., did not seem bothered much as he disembarked to go home. He said he was going on another cruise in three weeks.

Quick action

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, executive vice president of operations for Royal Caribbean International, said that when the outbreak was reported, the cruiseline took immediate action. She said a full sanitization of the ship was ordered as soon as the company received reports of passengers taken ill.

“Then the numbers dropped significantly over the last five days,” she said.

Lutoff-Perlo said company representatives were joined by officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when Explorer docked in St. Thomas.

“We’re in the process of going back onboard and talking about lessons learned,” she said, as the last of the passengers trickled off the ship in late afternoon.

High-tech cleaning

When the ship had docked earlier in the afternoon, Rick O’Shea of Byoplanet of Sunrise, Fla., was armed and ready to tackle the sanitization of the cruiseliner.

“This should be turned around in eight to 12 hours,” he said. “They asked me to come onboard and assist them.”

The company representative said the electrostatic spraying he was going to provide would disinfect the ship and allow for it to sail again two days later.

“It takes some elbow grease and some state-of-the-art technology,” he said just before boarding.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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