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Public Health at Sea

A group of Keystone College students will spend their Spring Break exploring how a small floating city manages day to day public health issues while aboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas! Follow along as students blog about their journey.

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Public Health at Sea Days 6 and 7

March 20, 2023
By: Jordan Frye

This morning, we had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Sunil, the executive chef of our ship. He was so excited to tell us all about the ins and outs of food production on the ship, his staff, his background before working with Royal Caribbean, and his tips for navigating the stress of a dinner rush! He has been working with Royal for about 21 years and worked his way from the bottom to the top. One thing I thought was interesting was how many different roles the food staff has, and that their role in the food galley coordinated with the color of their neckerchief. Yellow is new hires, or as they call it “first contract,” blue is cook trainees, and red is the cook in charge of one section or the galley-for example, poultry, pasta, sauce, etc. Food production on the ship is a true assembly line, and it was interesting to learn about how important each individual is in making meals go smoothly! After the meeting with Mr. Sunil, we had the rest of the day to enjoy one last time in the warm sun. Most of us spent time by the pool during the day, and then we all met up for our last formal dinner at the My Time dining room. We got to see our favorite waiter Tyzar, and it was even lobster night!

On Saturday, we met with the security force to learn how they handle screenings, boarding, and any issues that arise on the ship. We learned there were 27 total security guards on the ship, and they all communicate through a phone system so the bartenders, activities directors, or anyone that might need them can contact them in a quick phone call. When an incident does arise, they can either isolate a person in their room with a guard outside 24/7, or if they are not compliant, they are sent to the brig, which is similar to a holding cell. They also went into how their role was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and how they had to handle defiant people, quarantine, and contact tracing. They were super informative, and I am thankful that they work so hard to keep the ship safe! After our meeting with security, Mr. Sunil came back to give us a tour of the food galley! It was so interesting to see just how clean and organized everything was down there, and it really showed how everything was able to run smoothly. We wrapped up our last night by watching a great performance by Spectra’s Caberet!

Public Health at Sea Day 5

March 17, 2023
By: Alyssa Booth

The next day, we were so lucky to have an awesome time to relax and enjoy our free day at Royal Caribbean’s private island! We laid in the sun and got the chance to swim in the bright blue ocean. There were a ton of beautiful beaches experienced as a class. We were lucky enough to even see a stingray swim by! After the fun day in the sun, we all got ready for our Caribbean themed dinner as a group. We even got to join in on a conga line at dinner with our servers!

Public Health at Sea Day 4

March 17, 2023
By: Alyssa Booth

Today we had the opportunity to meet with the doctors from the Doctors Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas. We spoke with Dr. James Iferenta, vice president of medical affairs; Dr. Juana Rodgers, family medicine doctor; and Dr. Stephanie Hutcheson, a psychologist within the practice. The doctors provided us with incredible insight as to how they handle health crises such as the Covid-19 Pandemic, diabetes, the increase in mental health issues, and hurricane destruction.

When we first arrived, we walked through the beautiful city of Nassau as a group. We got to see the hospital’s main campus and emergency departments. The practice consists of different departments which are located in a few buildings throughout Nassau. All off the departments specialize in different healthcare resources and are located in a walking distance from each other. When we walked in to their newly built office, we were kindly greeted with a very generous welcome meal and drinks. Then, we began the meeting.

Dr. Iferenta shared with us that the Doctors Hospital is a private healthcare facility. We learned that in the Bahamas, all legal residents of are eligible to receive full health care benefits. There are no limitations based on economic or health status with this care. The doctors shared with us that because of the free healthcare, there are extremely long wait times which can be difficult for those who cannot take off from work to be seen. He also explained that due to the multitude of patients at the public offices, many feel that their visits are rushed and not as thorough as they should be. He also explained that this is one of the many reasons why many seek out private offices such as the Doctors Hospital.

Dr. Rodgers provided in-depth insight as to what it is like to deal with many different patients with different health issues. She brought light to the battle of diabetes and obesity and the body image and social culture of the Bahamas. She explained that being bigger is the beauty standard, but it is an incredibly harmful mentality to the health of their women. She stated that there are about 400,000 people living in the Bahamas, and of that, about 78,000 of them have hypertension. Having patients follow through with lifestyle changes is a struggle, but Dr. Rodgers does not give up. She has noticed a significant increase in patients trying to get their health in check because of her hard work. She hosts informational clinics on how to get healthy, the risks of obesity, and even hosts daily fitness clubs for anyone who wants to join. She tells her patients that she understands not everyone can afford top dollar fruits and vegetables, but advises that they eat what is growing in their gardens for free.

Thanks to Dr. Hutcheson, we were able to get a closer look as to what it was like to be a psychologist who can provide relief in a time of loss and devastation. She explains the hardships that the nation occurred at the time of Hurricane Dorian. She said that this was the most loss that the Bahamas had ever seen. It is very typical to experience hurricanes due to living in the Caribbean, but it’s not common to experience death the way that the Bahamian community had seen. She shared that there were at least 200 documented deaths. The hurricane sat at a Category 5 for over 48 hours in the same location, which had never been seen before. There was over 25 feet of rainwater covering their town. Not far after this devastation, the pandemic took over, leaving many people hopeless and depressed. In a time of loss and disparity, Dr. Hutcheson saw an influx of patients like never before. The stigma of mental health had finally moved towards being lifted and became more accepted socially. She began providing virtual visits for patients, and speaks often to the community about how important it is to take care of your mental health.

Despite each doctor having their own specialty, it was clear that they all had one commonality between their work, and that was to keep humanity alive in their office, and to always meet their patients halfway. We are so lucky to have had this once in a lifetime experience to speak with such amazing and talented healthcare workers!

Public Health at Sea Day 1-3

March 15, 2023
By: Angel Rodriguez

Day 1 of Royal Caribbean went according to plan and we traded in the freezing cold snow for the hot blue skies and sunburnt skin. Our trip started out with us embarking into our new home for the next eight days. We went through a very smooth check-in process with welcome from the crew of the ship. Our rooms weren’t available for the first two hours, so that gave us time to travel around the ship and see all the different amenities. Everyone was very welcoming and the food was well-prepared. We had our first dinner together as a group and capped off the night with a hilarious comedian to welcome us on the cruise.

Day 2 was really about getting aquatinted with everyone and everything on the boat. First, we toured the ship’s water systems and learned how waste is handled and purified. The process on how water systems and waste was very interesting. After that we got to enjoy the pool and a great formal night dinner that night.

Day 3 was altered unfortunately due to the ship having mechanical issues, so we weren’t able to dock at Cape Canaveral, Fla. to see the Kennedy Space Center. Instead, we enjoyed each others company and game planned what we were going to do in Nassau, Bahamas. It should really fun and interesting as we are going to see how a hospital in the Bahamas is operated and learn more about its history and day-to-day tasks.

Below are some photos from our first three days:

Meeting With The Director Of Environmental Services

Anthem of the Seas

Public Health students preparing to learn at sea

March 8, 2023
By: Kayleigh Delfino, Adjunct Instructor

We are just a few days away from our journey on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas for the Public Health at Sea course!

Eleven students spent the semester learning about different aspects of the health and safety of cruise ships. They reviewed research articles and the Vessel Sanitation Guide through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while also learning the importance of public health on cruise ships and in general. Students then presented on various topics such as, food safety, potable water, infectious disease transmission, and waste and pest management to name a few.

The students also read the novel Cabin Fever, which follows a cruise ship during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During our time at sea the students will visit Port Canaveral, Fla. and explore the Kennedy Space Center; meet with various ship staff including the environmental officer, Chef,  and Security; visit The Doctors Hospital and learn from doctors and staff in Nassau, Bahamas; and of course enjoy the sunshine and warmth!

Synopsis With Picture

Public Health at Sea

A group of Keystone College students will spend their Spring Break exploring how a small floating city manages day to day public health issues while aboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas!

Follow along as students blog about their journey. 

Student Bloggers

Angel Rodriguez

Angel Rodriguez

Alyssa Booth

Alyssa Booth

Jordan Frye

Jordan Frye