Third Consecutive Time
The cruise ship, Celebrity Mercury, left Charleston, South Carolina last week.
By the time it returned to Charleston on Sunday, one day early, 350 of the 1,829 passengers onboard were sick with the norovirus, the same sickness that plagued passengers on two previous Celebrity Mercury cruises.
Six crew members out of 834 were also ill.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps, and can last up to 72 hours.
Upon its return, Celebrity Cruises announced its crew will conduct “an extensive and thorough sanitizing onboard the ship and within the cruise terminal.” The effort will take 72 hours and involve 50 crew members.
Celebrity Mercury is scheduled to set sale Sunday, March 21 from the Port of Charleston, two days after the original departure date to allow for the cleaning.
The virus spreads quickly in closed quarters and is difficult to eliminate because it only requires a few viral particles to cause an infection.
Last month 400 got the same illness cruising on the Celebrity Mercury. 200 were sickened with norovirus on the ship during the previous cruise.
Sarah Bennet, a passenger on the Celebrity Mercury asked ABC News, “Why do you keep letting people on this ship when they keep getting sick?”
Dr. Richard Besser, tells Good Morning America that norovirus causes half of foodborne disease and that it only takes “ten organisms to get sick.” The norovirus lives on surfaces and can spread to the next occupant in a cruise ship cabin a week later.
The CDC recommends you wash your hands with warm soap and water before touching your hands to your mouth in activities such as eating and drinking, smoking and brushing your teeth, as well as before helping a sick person.
Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, changing a diaper, or touching a surface that many hands have likely touched, and blowing your nose. If soap and water is not available, the second best choice is an ethanol alcohol-based hand sanitizer with alcohol at a minimum 62% level, preferably in a gel form.
Protect Yourself Before Your Cruise
If you don’t feel well before cruising, don’t get onboard, as the sick reintroduce illness to the ship. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a Web site on the ship’s inspection providing a score.
The CDC reports that the Celebrity Mercury had an inspection score of 94 out of 100 last October.
The majority of passengers enjoy their cruises and an estimated 15 million people are expected to board a cruise ship in 2010.
But read the fine print of your ticket, especially when it comes to medical care onboard.
In June 2008, IB News covered the story of Don and Marlene Bryce. While on a cruise, Don died and Marlene says she was shocked at the level of medical care. She spoke out because she doesn’t want others to go through what she experienced.
Many cases of calamities at sea, from passengers overboard to Norwalk virus, are chronicled by Dr. Ross Klein, a professor from the University of Newfoundland, in his web site www.cruisejunkie.com. #