When room service wears thin

tamrawilson Uncategorized

Ordering room service isn’t necessarily glamorous. Trust me on this.

On Jan. 29 I found myself in the medical clinic of the Oceania ship, Riviera. That day I had no energy and was experiencing chills as we visited sites around Cozumel.  I’d asked the bus driver if he could adjust the air conditioning.

That evening I wound up in the ship’s clinic where I was administered an IV and given the nasal test for flu. Turned out I had a strain of flu not covered by this season’s vaccine.

Two hours later, an attendant wearing a face mask pushed me in a wheelchair back to my state room. I’d just been issued a five-day prescription for Tamiflu and instructions to order room service.

It was a good thing that I had my e-reader and crochet hook. For the next day, when I wasn’t coughing and taking flu meds, I watched the continuous loop of TV reports on Brexit, impeachment and the coronavirus. Footage showed travelers confined to a cruise ship off Japan and travelers from China being bussed to an isolation unit in the UK. The bus driver clearly wore no mask; while the escort seated next to him wore full hazmat suit.

Meanwhile, back on my ship, word spread that the guest in cabin 7031 was contagious. Room service attendants arrived in full mask and gloves. By the next day, some refused to touch the door, much less come inside. One meal was delivered on a tray wrapped in layers of plastic, accompanied by an orange bag labeled “biohazard.” Later that same day,  a waiter brought breakfast. Inexplicably, he wore no mask or gloves, which may explain how germs can spread.

Illness on a cruise ship is serious business. Cruise lines want healthy ships. The last thing the captain and his staff want is an outbreak of illness.

For the next two days, my cabin mate went about her business, religiously taking her precautionary supply of Tamiflu, as I busied myself with my e-reader, crochet hook and yarn I’d brought along for the sea days. When I wasn’t reading or crocheting, I gazed at boats in the harbor, thinking about excursions I was missing in Honduras and Guatemala. This trip to the Caribbean had been planned for more than a year, and here I was, confined to my quarters, ordering room service: croissants, tea, salads, fettuccini, fries, more salad. Hardly glamorous.

Of course this isn’t the first time illness has spoiled a trip. Last Christmas I was introduced to the dreadful Norovirus in Reno. The absolute worst, though, was back in 1974, holed up in a London hotel room with a dreadful case of food poisoning. My room service then consisted of dry toast, hot tea and Vichy water—at the insistence of the house doctor who was summoned twice to give me injections in my stomach. To this day I don’t know what he gave me, but at that point, I couldn’t have cared less. 

I’m happy to report that the ship medical staff had me back on my feet in two days—until I read my medical bill: $2,900. I caught my breath and felt even sorrier for myself. And then I remembered those poor travelers quarantined off the coast of Japan, facing the threat of coronavirus. My two days of room service—yes, even the medical bill–pale in comparison.