Ryndam sails again



Ryndam, twice hit by illness, sails again
650 cleaners spent week on ship before 1,300 passengers boarded.
(Anchorage Daily News, August 10, 2002

Vancouver, British Columbia -- After two consecutive sailings hit by contagious illness, and a week of intensive sanitation by 650 cleaners, Holland America's Ryndam cruise ship left Thursday afternoon for Alaska with a full passenger load of 1,300 people.

In late July, the Ryndam experienced an outbreak of a flu-like illness, and 163 passengers and seven crew members became ill with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

Less than a week later, the same ship, loaded with a new group of passengers, had another outbreak of the same Norwalk-like virus.

When it arrived in Vancouver last week, 200 passengers and 31 crew members were sick.

Earlier this week, two passengers launched a class-action lawsuit against Seattle-based Holland America. Beverly and Larry Jones of Duncan, British Columbia, are suing on behalf of passengers who contracted the virus.

The writ filed in British Columbia Supreme Court claims the cruise line showed "a callous disregard" for passengers who became ill. It also claims Holland America failed to warn passengers about the first outbreak of the virus aboard the ship, preventing them from canceling their cruises and avoiding the illness.

The Ryndam was docked for the week while crews thoroughly cleaned the ship with chlorine and hydrogen peroxide solutions, paying particular attention to areas where the virus may have been prominent.

Health Canada officials said Wednesday they were satisfied the ship had been properly disinfected and was ready to sail with a new group of passengers.

Among those boarding the freshly sanitized Ryndam, Catherine Nicol, with her husband and daughter, said she knew of the two viral attacks aboard the ship before she left her Edmonton home, but said she wasn't concerned about a third wave of illness sweeping over the ship.

"We'll probably have the cleanest cruise of the year," said Nicol, who didn't bother taking out cancellation insurance in case of illness.

Craig Brandt was another passenger who wasn't about to let the two virus attacks ruin his holiday plans.

"They tell me they've washed the ship down in bleach," said Brandt, a health-care professional from Colorado.

But Cathy McLarean, who traveled to Vancouver from England for the cruise, said she was slightly alarmed when she heard about last week's virus.

"But I think they've done as much as they can, so hopefully all will be fine," she said.


My wife and I were on the Aug. 8 sailing of the Ryndam, and we had heard of the previous weeks cancellation because of the virus. Most people in the boarding lines felt, as did we, that the ship was probably more sanitary than the day it was launched.

We did have a wonderful cruise, as we have come to expect on HAL, but it was not without incident. On the morning we were supposed to be entering Glacier Bay, we awoke to an anouncement by the captain that we would be anchored in Auke Bay, near Juneau. We had a power failure during the night and we would be anchored here while repairs were made and coastguard inspections were completed. Unfortunately, we did miss Glacier Bay but HAL made restitution in the form of shipboard credit either on this cruise or on a future cruise. As we later learned, our breakdown may have been fortunate, because we read that extremely high winds, 70 knots was mentioned, had forced park rangers to stop cruise ships from entering Glacier Bay. I , for one, was not unhappy about missing that!

I wanted to mention one other thing I found unusual. On our last day at sea, en route to Vancouver, we came upon a pod of Orca, and of course, everyone was trying to get pictures. Well, the captain actually turned that 720 ft ship around and followed the whales for several minutes. The largest "whale watching" boat ever.