For those who are not regulars on a cruise ship, you might be unaware of the “secret” codes used by the crew to spread the word of an event without causing mass panic among the passengers. These codes are used for any number of events but the one that is getting the most attention right now is the dreaded Code Red. This is communicating that there is an outbreak of some type on the ship and in most cases, it is the flu-like Norovirus. For the condition to be considered a Code Red there would need to be between 2% and 3% of the passengers and/or crew infected.
Once the condition of Code Red is established, there are certain standards set by the CDC which should be followed. Some of the precautions put in place can include the use of only paper menus which are discarded after each use, no salt and pepper shakers on the table, no self-serve buffet, the laundry and library are closed, and all restroom doors remain open to eliminate the contamination possibility when touching the handles. In addition, you will see crew members cleaning and re-cleaning every inch of the ship. On a recent cruise which suffered a Norovirus outbreak, crew members could be seen wiping down the hand grips on the climbing wall after each user.
There are also lesser codes for an illness which has not infected the 3% needed for a code red, The lesser codes are yellow and green. But these should be a good warning for anyone on the ship to be extremely careful about touching anything in the common areas as an illness is present, but the 24/7 cleaning is not yet underway.
Avoiding contact as much as possible is a good way to protect yourself from any virus or bug going around on a cruise ship. But the other critical step is to wash your hands carefully and often. Medical professionals recommend scrubbing hands for 20 seconds in a vigorous manner and then rinsing with hot water. Other tips include the frequent use of hand sanitizer or hand sanitizer wipes, avoiding the buffet, and wiping the items that you must touch with a sanitizing wipe.
You never know when there will be a virus or bug on a cruise ship, so it is always best to be prepared for the worst and to hope for the best.