At 8:00 p.m. this evening, Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship will sail for an eight day cruise to the Caribbean.
The Mercury has been called the "sickest sea at sea." Even ABC's Good Morning America posed the question: Celebrity Mercury - Sickest Ship At Sea - Can Cruise Ship Be Cured?
Local South Carolina ABC affiliate WCIV News - 4 is optimistic that the cruise ship has been thoroughly cleaned over the past 72 hours after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a rare "no-sail" advisory. The ABC affiliate reports that "officials are now confident the ship is safe."
But I would not be so sure. Gastro-intestinal illnesses can be caused by contaminated food or water, from fecal-oral transmission from crew member to passenger, or from sick passengers who come aboard and infect others.
And the CDC has not determined the cause of the last sickness outbreak. The CDC report for the Celebrity Mercury's March 8th -19th sailing indicates that the "causative" agent for the widespread illnesses is "unknown."
Not sure I would set sail on a "sick" cruise ship where the CDC can't exclude contaminated food or water or ill crew members as the causes.
Let's cross our fingers and hope another round of passengers don't find themselves confined to their cabins.
March 22, 2010 Update:
According to USA Today, only 1,076 passengers are cruising on the Mercury (which is about 60% full). Around 800 passengers canceled and obtained what is described as a full refund.