The time-honoured practice of cruise ship captains shaking hands with passengers is gradually being consigned to the pages of history books. Cunard and Crystal Cruises are among cruise lines that have banned handshakes while Azamara Club Cruises has gone for a modern variant of it.
One passenger on a recent Cunard cruise claimed signs had been posted saying no handshakes were permitted. A spokesperson for Crystal Cruises confirmed its no handshakes policy. He stated the line followed the recommendations of the US’s Centers for Disease Control and also rigorously disinfected public areas and surfaces that were touched frequently by crew and passengers.
On Azamara cruises, captains have been asked to give a greeting usually reserved for teenagers and rap musicians. The modern handshake involves bumping closed fists together and thereby avoiding the possible transference of germs that might happen with an open handshake .
Since the dawn of leisure cruises, captains and senior crew members have traditionally shaken hands with passengers as they boarded their vessels. With the advent of the camera, the ritual expanded to include a posed photograph or sometimes to a light kiss on the cheek.
Several recent outbreaks of norovirus on board cruise ships have sounded the death knell for the captain’s handshake. The virus often triggers gastroenteritis which can lead to diarrhoea, uncontrollable vomiting, fevers and abdominal cramps.
People who have been exposed to norovirus bacteria usually fall sick between 24 and 48 hours later. The sickness can last for up to four days. The virus is hardy and can be transmitted by touching the hands of an infected person or using items such as eating utensils which they have handled.