The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a rare no-sail advisory for Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship. The CDC has instructed Celebrity not to sail the sick cruise ship until Sunday in order to permit its inspectors to investigate the ongoing outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness.
Over the course of the last month, hundreds of passengers have become sick on the Mercury over the course of its last three sailings.
According to CNN, members of the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) boarded the cruise ship looking for causes of the latest wave of illness.
Although the CDC determined that norovirus was the cause of the outbreaks for the first two sailings, the CDC could not determine the type of pathogen for the latest outbreak on the Mercury.
A no-sail advisory is an extreme step. Its like a city inspector shutting down a dirty restaurant for code violations which pose a health hazard to the city residents.
The Mercury has been a sailing nightmare for the past month. First, a half dozen crew members were sickened in what the cruise line thought was carbon monoxide poisoning - Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Reported Aboard Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship - when the cruise ship returned to port in Baltimore. After the ship was re-positioned to South Carolina, all cruises have been plagued by what many call "cruise ship sickness."
The Mercury is an old ship and Royal Caribbean / Celebrity will be selling it later this year.
For a chronology of the diseased ship, read our blogs over the past month regarding the Mercury.
March 16, 2010 Update:
USA Today reports: "Celebrity to Offer Full Refunds to Passengers on Delayed Mercury Cruise"
Cruise Cleaners Telegraph.co.uk "Cruises: Norovirus Questions & Answers"