The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship has returned to Charleston, South Carolina with 182 ill passengers.
With the sick passengers disembarking, another 1,800 passengers are boarding. (I wonder whether the cruise ine discloses to the new passengers which cabins had sick passengers in them?)
The Mercury has experienced more than its fair share of problems in the last month. There was a report of carbon monoxide poisoning on February 13th when the cruise ship returned to Baltimore. After the ship re-positioned to Charleston, its inaugural cruise from that port resulted in over 400 passengers coming down with the dreaded norovirus.
The ship was delayed a day until February 26th for what the cruise line calls "enhanced cleaning," and we questioned "Will the Celebrity Mercury Infect Another Round of Passengers?"
Now close to 200 people another passengers and crew have fallen ill.
The most troubling information is that the CDC reports that the "causative factor" (i.e., whats causing the sickness) is "unknown."
Norovirus can be caused by sick passengers coming aboard, or sick crewmembers greeting the passengers or, more concerning, infected food and/or water supplies. The cruise supporters always blame the passengers for not washing their hands - which may be the case. But the issue whether there is a problem with the cruise ship cannot be excluded. Many people refer to norovirus as the "cruise ship sickness."
If the potable water or food have norovirus particles, all of the external cleaning in the world is not going to make a difference. It only takes a few fecal particles in the food, drinking water or shower.
USA Today reports that the Mercury's departure today is delayed for another round of "enhanced cleaning."
But without determining the "causative factor" and determining whether the passengers, the crewmembers, or the food and water supplies are spreading the virus - it seems like the cruise line is shooting into the dark.
Cruise desserts nbnpress.com