Posts Tagged With: Costa Rica

Quarantine on the Norwegian Star

This was not my first time getting sick on a cruise ship. In 2007, I got seasick my first day at sea and had to leave the dining room and go to bed just as my lobster tail arrived. Jim dutifully stayed behind to consume my portion. Fortunately, I got a patch from a friend and within 24 hours I was fine. In 2011, I came down with an abscessed tooth in Barcelona, Spain, before boarding the ship for a Mediterranean cruise which resulted in my first trip to the medical department on board for an antibiotic and pain medication. The experience cost around $250 since neither medical or dental insurance would cover it as it was a dental event and I saw a medical doctor because there wasn’t a dentist on board.

This time I came down with gastroenteritis. I’ll spare you the details of my symptoms because you really don’t want to know. (Trust me on this.) I will tell you, however, that I am a constant hand washer while on a cruise ship. In addition, ship staff, standing sentinel outside every restaurant onboard, proclaim, “Washy, washy” while they spray passenger hands with antibacterial sanitizer and I am always cooperative. I assume I must have touched something that was contaminated and then touched my mouth without washy washy in between which allowed me to contract this scourge. Or maybe I ate or drank something off the ship in Mexico that contained the organism that took me down.

I waited to report my illness thinking and hoping it would pass.  My symptoms started about 10 am and by 4 pm I was still getting worse rather than better and finally decided it was time to seek medical attention. The nurse asked a number of questions before the doctor examined me, including whether I had used any of the public restrooms. I now have an idea how the doctor who rode the subway and went to a bowling alley before he showed symptoms of Ebola must have felt. Believe me, I felt like a pariah when they dispatched a team to sanitize the public bathroom after I confessed to using it.

The paperwork that had to be completed in the medical department was voluminous. My husband, who takes paperwork very seriously, interrogated me as I lay in the intensive care room of the sick bay. Jim recorded my every movement on and off the ship and every morsel of food that went into my mouth. Fortunately, I’m a creature of habit and follow pretty much the same routine in both food and movement (no pun intended) so even in my delirium I was able to recreate my previous 4 days fairly accurately. (The word delirium is an exaggeration but when someone is badgering me when I’m VERY sick, some degree of hyperbole should be allowed.)

The worst part is that I missed the second most important event of the cruise. Obviously, the most important thing on a Panama Canal cruise is seeing the Panama Canal. The only excursion we signed up for, however, was the aerial tram and zip line through the rain forest in Costa Rica. I’ve always said I don’t have a bucket list because if I want to do something, I get right on it. But if I had a bucket list, the one thing that would be on it is zip lining. As a recovering acrophobe, this is something I think I can now do with a high level of enjoyment. Another excursion option was the swinging bridge but I didn’t think I could handle height combined with swaying on a rope bridge.

I ended up being quarantined in my room for 24 hours upon discharge from sick bay that evening and the only view from my window was of another ship rather than Costa Rica.  The meds I got from the doctor worked quickly and I felt much better the next morning so I called the medical department to see if I could be released early to go on the excursion but they said 4 pm was the earliest I could leave my room. Meanwhile, my husband and my friend were living my dream. Lori wasn’t originally sure she really wanted to zip line but she was game to join us. Jim had no hesitation at all. Rick recently had shoulder surgery so he declined early on. So, off Jim and Lori went while I stayed behind feeling sorry for myself.

I also missed a meet-up with friends who were in this port on the ship my window faced. We’d met a couple from Kentucky while we were in South Africa in February, 2014 and discovered we would be on cruise ships going opposite directions with a common stop in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We planned to meet up after our zip lining excursion, hopefully around 4 pm. The doctor called to check on me in the morning and said I was quarantined until 5 pm.  NOoooo!  Passengers had to be back on board at 4:30 for our departure. I explained my plan to meet friends on the other ship with no way to communicate and begged for an early release. The doctor agreed to call back at 3 pm to reassess my situation.

At 3:00, the doctor called to explain that I couldn’t get off the ship at all because it would expose the other ship to gastroenteritis. They would call at 5 pm to release me after we set sail. I had to remain in quarantine which was a bitter pill to swallow… although totally understandable.

When the doctor called soon after 5 and asked, “Have you been waiting by the phone?,” I replied, “Wherever I go in my room, I’m by the phone.”  She released me.   I checked with my sources on the ship that evening and learned there were 13 other people on board with gastroenteritis.

If you’re interested in the numbers of GI illnesses reported on cruise ships, the CDC tracks this data and you can find it here. Have you been on a cruise ship hit by gastroenteritis or norovirus?  Have you personally had either one?  If so, please share your story in comments.

For your enjoyment, I’m including some of Lori and Jim’s photos from the aerial tram and zip lining.

Zip lining, Costa Rica, 2014

Lori ready to zip line. Jim’s finger in the photo illustrates why I’m normally the photographer.

 

 

Zip line, 11/2014

Jim ready to zip line

Costa Rica, 11/2014

Lori, zip lining

Zip lining, 11/2014

Jim zip lining, Costa Rica

Costa Rica Rain Forest, 2014

Jim, zip lining in the rain forest

 

Categories: cruise, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Cruising from the Port of Los Angeles

We always arrive a day early for a cruise departure, just to ensure that we have extra time in case of travel delays. This was our first departure from the Port of Los Angeles and we wanted a hotel near the cruise port with a shuttle to deliver us to the port. If you need a hotel, I suggest you book it when you book your cruise. I waited for several months after booking our cruise and the hotel I wanted was full so I settled on the Hilton Doubletree in San Pedro, as my second choice. I also arranged a deal with a breakfast buffet so we wouldn’t arrive hungry (don’t ask me why!) to our cruise ship, the Norwegian Star, for our 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal.

With an early flight out of Des Moines, Iowa, and a two-hour time change to the earlier, we arrived by 9 AM in California at LAX. The taxi ride early on a Sunday morning to San Pedro took only about 40 minutes with little traffic. Our hotel rooms weren’t available yet so we left our bags there and took the hotel shuttle to downtown San Pedro. Not a lot was going so early but we stopped by the visitor’s center which was open, surprisingly, and with advice from a helpful staff person, quickly decided that a foursome from Iowa should check out the Battleship Iowa at the LA Waterfront.

Jim and I toured this ship in Norfolk, Virginia, back in the 80’s before it was decommissioned but we were game to see it again. We were delighted to discover that Iowa residents can now tour the ship for free because the State of Iowa contributed funds for its refurbishment and preservation.

Iowa Battleship

Iowa Battleship, San Pedro, CA

Iowa Battleship

Iowa Battleship Admission Prices

Recognition Plaque

Plaque Recognizing Contribution of the State of Iowa

The Big Stick (the Iowa’s nickname) was launched in 1942 as the lead ship of four ships in the Iowa class of battleships. The others are the Wisconsin, the Missouri, and the New Jersey. If Jim had a blog, he would tell you all about the 16 inch guns on the ship and other details that you may find fascinating about battle ships in general and the Iowa class specifically.

!6 inch guns on Iowa Battleship

Rick, Lori, and Jim in front of the 16 inch guns on the Battleship Iowa

I, however, prefer social history over military history. To me, the most interesting part of the ship was a tour of the rooms used by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt while in transit to Tehran for the conference with Churchill and Stalin to plan the D-Day invasion of WWII. Doors had to be widened to accommodate FDR’s wheelchair; a kitchen was installed for his personal meal preparation; and the only bathtub on any ship in the fleet was installed for the President’s daily soak.

FDR's Rooms on the Iowa

Rooms Used by President FD Roosevelt While Aboard the Iowa

Volunteer aboard the Iowa Battleship

Volunteer Telling about President Roosevelt’s Journey to Africa on the Iowa

Another interesting tidbit involved the ship’s mascot, a dog called Vicky, short for Victory. The captain’s dog occasionally went AWOL from the ship but always seemed to turn up in time to set sail. One time she went missing in Long Beach, CA, and a call went out in the newspaper to help find her. Apparently it worked because a later report indicated she was back on board.

Mascot Vicky

Ship Mascot, Victory, during WW2

The walk along the waterfront in San Pedro is pleasant with a shopping area and locally significant sculptures to experience.

Jacob's Ladder

Statue of 2 Merchant Marines climbing a Jacob’s Ladder after a rescue at sea

Harry Bridges

Statue of Harry Bridges in San Pedro, CA, founder of International Longshore and Warehouse Union

Fishing Industry Memorial, San Pedro, CA

Fishing Industry Memorial, San Pedro, CA

Before heading back to the hotel, we ducked into The Whale and Ale, a local pub also recommended at the tourist information, for a late lunch. The owner was authentically British judging by his accent and the quality of the food was definitely above typical pub fare. We were all satisfied and ready to return to the hotel.

Local Pub, The Whale and Ale

Local Pub, The Whale and Ale, in San Pedro, CA

The Doubletree by Hilton is in a great location for cruising from the Port of Los Angeles. Overlooking the marina, the hotel is attractive and comfortable with a great breakfast. Our room was upgraded unbeknownst to us and we had a patio with a view of the marina. Some of the staff were a little wanting but most were topnotch. The carpet in the halls and stairways begs for replacement but overall, I would give this hotel high marks. The area is attractive with a long pedestrian walkway along the marina and my friend, Lori, and I felt quite safe walking without the men.

Hilton Doubletree, San Pedro, CA

View from our room to our patio at the Hilton Doubletree, San Pedro, CA

Hilton Doubletree, San Pedro, CA

Hilton Doubletree Pool and Hot Tub

Hilton Doubletree, San Pedro, CA

Pedestrian Walkway in front of the Hilton Doubletree

San Pedro, CA

Vestiges of Halloween at the Marina, San Pedro, CA

 

The following day we were delivered promptly to the cruise port to begin our adventure through the Panama Canal with stops in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, and Puerto Chiapas, Mexico; Costa Rica; and Columbia; ending in Miami.

IMG_8821

Categories: History, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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