Celebrity Cruises' disastrous string of "diarrhea-cruises" out of South Carolina continues with the cruise line's decision to return the Mercury to port in Charleston a day early.
USA Today's Cruise Log reports that sickness has marred three straight voyages in "Celebrity to End Cruise Out of Charleston Early as Outbreak Continues." Royal Caribbean indicates that 342 of the 1,829 passengers on the cruise ship became ill since the cruise began. The article mentions that the cruise ship will skip its scheduled stop in Tortola British Virgin Islands and head straight back to the U.S. The cruise ship will arrive in Charleston on Thursday.
This is now the third cruise on the Mercury where passengers have become sickened with a gastrointestinal sickness.
The USA Today article reads not unlike the typical cruise line press release - mentioning that norovirus is the most common cause of stomach illness in the U.S. and breaks out regularly in schools, nursing homes, and hospitals. But the article does not inquire into the specific cause of this outbreak, nor question why three straight cruises have sickened passengers.
The report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on the Mercury's last cruise does not even contain a conclusion regarding the "causative agent" for the sickness and is a week out of date. If the CDC can't pinpoint the type of virus or pathogen from last week's cruise - why does anyone think that another round of "top-to-bottom" cleaning will make a difference?
As we have reported in prior blogs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concludes that whereas "person to person" transmission of norovirus has been documented, "norwalk gastroenteritis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated water and foods." The FDA reports that "water is the most common source of outbreaks and may include water from municipal supplies, well, recreational lakes, swimming pools, and water stored aboard cruise ships."
What are the test results of the cruise ship's water supplies? The Mercury is one of Celebrity's oldest cruise ships, and is scheduled to leave the Royal Caribbean - Celebrity fleet later this year. Is there something wrong with this ship? Is this a sick ship?
For prior articles:
Stomach Bug Hits Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship Again
Will the Celebrity Mercury Infect Another Round of Passengers?
Celebrity Cruises Postpones Cruise From Charleston After Massive Norovirus Outbreak On Mercury Cruise Ship
Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?
Additional Passengers Sickened on Mercury Cruise Ship
Celebrity Cruises' Mercury Returns to Port with 182 Sick Passengers - Sailing Postponed
"Cruise Ship Sickness" - Is Norovirus In The Food and Water?
Here is a statement from Celebrity Cruises / Royal Caribbean issued today:
During Celebrity Mercury’s current sailing, a number of guests onboard experienced a gastrointestinal illness, thought to be a norovirus. Over the course of the sailing, crew onboard has been conducting enhanced cleaning, to help prevent the spread of the illness.
While there was a decline in the spread of the illness during the sailing, in an abundance of caution, and in order to prevent additional guests and crew from becoming ill, we have decided to bypass Celebrity Mercury’s port of call today to Tortola, British Virgin Islands, and return to Charleston a day earlier than originally scheduled. Celebrity Mercury will now arrive in Charleston early Thursday morning. The enhanced cleaning of the ship, all of which is being done in close coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will continue until the ship arrives in Charleston.
“I would like to apologize for the inconvenience this modified itinerary will cause our guests currently on Celebrity Mercury,” said Daniel Hanrahan, president and chief executive officer of Celebrity Cruises. “I have made this decision to delay the sailing because we want to maintain our high health standards onboard our ships, while providing our guests with the best cruise experience possible. The extra time we are taking to sanitize the ship will help prevent any additional guests from becoming ill.”
March 15, 2010 Update:
Centers for Disease Control: "Shut Mercury Cruise Ship Down!"