There are about 680 passengers on board the Insignia, along with around 400 crew. While we are on the Cape Town to Singapore leg, there is a larger program afoot. To celebrate 15 years in business the Insignia is doing a 180 days around the world cruise, departing Miami January of 2018 and ending up back in Miami in July. There are about 130 passengers doing the whole program.
Of course we are all here to have a good time. But a major concern is keeping us all healthy. Oceania is always meticulously, scrupulously ship shape and proper – every detail attended to and very precise in their food handling. No pawing at the buffet on this ship! We noticed that there were no salt and pepper shakers on the tables- rather a saucer with paper packets. Okay.
A few days in and things began to change – 10 people were sick and ‘the plan’ was in place. The elevator buttons were covered with a large sheet of plastic – everyone has to touch it and it is easier to wipe down than clean each button. The laundrettes closed. The doors to the washrooms in public areas were propped open (so no one had to touch the door handles). One day between breakfast and lunch – whoosh no more table clothes or place mats. No place settings- when we sat down they would bring only the glasses and service ware required. At dinner this included a large table napkin wrapped around all the cutlery we might require – 9 different knives/forks/spoons – the darn thing weighed about 5 pounds.
When 13 people were sick more things disappeared – no more salt and pepper packets. If you wanted sugar they would bring the little container and hand you the packet – no rummaging around. Want ketchup? The waiter would bring the bottle and put some on the plate. We could have whatever we want, just had to ask. Eventually after each group left the table the table would be disinfected and a little sign left with the time when the table could be used after the disinfectant had dried.
In addition to all of this in the dining areas other staff were cleaning everything. Anything that might be casually touched – hand rails, service counters, wall panels – was being washed with disinfectant. For us it was a matter of lots of hand washing and hand sanitizers. But for the crew and staff? So. Much. Work. They work such long hours and now they had all these extra jobs to do.
And then, yesterday morning we went to breakfast and saw this:
The salt and pepper shakers had arrived! The table was set! And sure enough. The sick people were getting better and no new cases. Return to normal procedures.
p.s. on the plate? Those are passion fruits. OMG! The best!