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SEATTLE -- Holland America Line's ms Amsterdam re-entered service on Dec. 1 on a scheduled Caribbean cruise following a 10-day hiatus to break the cycle of NLV that had affected guests on earlier sailings. Holland America canceled a 10-day Caribbean cruise Nov. 21 to break the person-to-person transmission of the ailment and for a thorough bow-to-stern sanitization of the 61,000-ton vessel.
"Our guests can have complete confidence that they will be sailing on the cleanest ship at sea," said A. Kirk Lanterman, chairman and CEO. "Holland America and the crew of the ms Amsterdam have gone to extraordinary efforts to provide guests peace of mind."
"The aggressive cleaning and sanitizing protocol, combined with the length of time the ship was out of service, provided a great opportunity to break the person-to-person cycle of the virus," said Lieutenant Commander Jon Schoor, assistant deputy chief, vessel sanitation program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Holland America Line continues to go above and beyond to provide a clean and safe ship."
Cleaning and sanitizing was accomplished by the 573 crew members, supplemented by more than 40 specialized subcontractors. Dr. Megan Murray, epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist at the Harvard School of Public Health, supervised the efforts for Holland America Line.
"Holland America has implemented every feasible measure to reduce the likelihood of NLV transmission aboard the Amsterdam," said Murray. "Based on the efforts taken to clean the ship and the sanitation procedures in place, there is no reason to believe that there will be further transmission of NLV onboard the ship."
"The measures we had implemented on earlier cruises already had reduced the number of new cases," added Lanterman. "But, we decided to take the extraordinary action of taking the ship out of service to eliminate any doubts future guests might have.
"We've learned a great deal through this recent challenge," commented Lanterman. "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 endeavor to provide more advance notice and more choices.
"For example, prior to this Dec. 1st 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."
Measures taken on board the Amsterdam to clean and sanitize the vessel included:
* Removing and sanitizing all loose objects from the passenger staterooms
including television remote controls, ice buckets and ashtrays -- even
* Disinfecting all surfaces in the casino, including poker chips and
* Cleaning all surfaces of the public rooms, restaurants, hallways, and
* Treating all surfaces, furniture and fabrics in staterooms, dining
areas and public rooms with a liquid sanitizing solution.
* Thoroughly laundering all bedclothes and linens with special cleaners.
* Discarding all pillows (nearly 2,500) and replacing with new.
* Disinfecting all glassware, silverware, plates, bowls and serving
* Cleaning and sanitizing all crew areas, galleys and marshalling areas.
* Steam cleaning carpets.
Earlier in the summer the Amsterdam received a score of 96 out of 100 on its vessel sanitation inspection by United States Public Health. The ship also received the prestigious "Ship of the Year" award from the respected The World Ocean & Cruise Liner Society. The 1,380-passenger Amsterdam is to depart on a 10-day "Wayfarer" Caribbean cruise, calling at Willemstad, Curacao; La Guaira, Venezuela; Port of Spain, Trinidad; Fort-de-France, Martinique; St. Thomas, USVI; and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. Currently, 1,261 passengers are scheduled to sail on the cruise.