Relax, it was just a drill. The weekly drill all ships in the world must conduct, according to international maritime law. And the kind of drill should be fairly easy to guess. Yep, it was a Biohazard drill (or chemicals).
It goes back to early 2000s when this was a real deal around the globe. Especially the scare and fear for these kinds of attacks. So, the Cruise Industry implemented some procedures and routines when it comes to dealing with a scare or a real threat.
Not surprisingly, these procedures were implemented very soon after the September 11 terror attacks in USA, and when they received all the different Anthrax threats there. And since back in the early 2000s the vast majority of passengers on the cruise ships were still Americans, and the Company was American owned, we naturally had take this seriously as well.
So, one day in early 2002, I think it was, we received a lot boxes with some stuff we had not ordered to the ship. After calling the Company they confirmed what it was. Later on they sent onboard a person to train us in how to get dressed in all the equipment, and how to go through the various routines and procedures. I tell you, when you see all the stuff, you will need some sort of instructions.
First we put on an inner coverall, and inner plastic gloves. Then we tape all openings around the ankles and wrists. Then we put on the BAs (Breathing Apparatuses), which we borrow from one of the many Fire Lockers (fire stations) around the ship.
Then we put on a new suit over that, zip it up and seal whatever we find of any openings (around the zippers maybe).
Special vacuum cleaners, and other equipment came with the suits of course. Special powders (and chemicals) to neutralize any Bio or Chemical hazards. Special boxes to keep the dangerous stuff in.
We rigged special showers and tents where we could pass through as we underdressed after the operation. Making sure we were scrubbed by other crew all the time.
But maybe the worst and most annoying routine was when we were told that all Crew mail received to the ship, had to be opened on the the pier (dock side), inside a tent. This in order to make sure it was safe stuff, before it was brought onboard. And many crew receive mail and packages they do not expect in the ports, because you never really know when the mail (you expect) will arrive, since the ship moves around.
Anyway, it was a special time those days, and the travel industry would never be the same again. But we still enjoy traveling of course.