'Our guests can have complete confidence that they will be sailing on the cleanest ship at sea,' said HAL chairman and ceo A. Kirk Lanterman.
Meanwhile, Disney Magic is sitting out a cruise as it undergoes its own stem to stern sanitisation this week after Norwalk virus cropped up on the last two voyages. Centers for Disease Control epidemiologists have found no evidence of systemic problems causing the cruise ship outbreaks and say the gastrointestinal flu-like illness is being transmitted by person to person contact.
'The aggressive cleaning and sanitising protocol, combined with the length of time the [Amsterdam] was out of service, provided a great opportunity to break the person-to-person cycle of the virus,' said Lt. Cmdr. Jon Schoor, assistant deputy chief of the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Programme. Cleaning on the HAL ship was carried out by 573 crew members and more than 40 specialised subcontractors. Dr. Megan Murray, epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist at the Harvard School of Public Health, supervised the efforts and said 'there is no reason to believe that there will be further transmission of NLV onboard the ship.'
Lanterman noted that the preventative measures taken earlier had already reduced the number of cases, but HAL decided to take the ship out of service to 'eliminate any doubts.' Lanterman also said the company learned a great deal from its recent weeks in the media spotlight.
'We have a keen understanding of how important it is to communicate with our guests early and often when faced with these types of situations. We will endeavour to provide more advance notice and more choices. For example, prior to this December 1 sailing, we reached out to everyone booked on the cruise to ensure that they understood the situation and their options. Passengers uneasy about sailing were offered other cruises, future travel credits or refunds. It was satisfying to see that a very small number of guests changed their plans, and the ship is sailing near full capacity.'