Stomach Bug Cripples Cruise Ship Passengers
The cruise industry’s worst nightmare has come true for 350 passengers of a Celebrity Cruises cruise ship that has suffered an outbreak of the norovirus stomach bug. Norovirus is a highly contagious bug that is contracted by ingesting small amounts of food or water contaminated with fecal matter. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea; patients suffering from the illness can become very sick if they are unable to stay hydrated. In close quarters like a cruise ship, the disease spreads very quickly, taking down large numbers of passengers in a short time period.
Since the outbreak began, the 2200 Celebrity Constellation ship has been delayed in Southhampton, England. It arrived at port on November 6 at the end of a 12-night wine tasting cruise to France and Spain. Southampton’s Port Health Authority met the ship upon its arrival, citing “concerns over increased levels of what appeared to be norovirus.”
After an inspection, British health officials confirmed that around 350 passengers had fallen ill with the virus. They delayed the ship’s departure in order for the crew to conduct deep cleaning. In an interview with BBC news, one passenger reported, “The sanitation on that ship is bad.”
Celebrity Cruises issued a statement in response to the outbreak, saying, “a small number of guests experienced a gastrointestinal type illness” and that a cleaning crew was conducting “extra cleaning and sanitizing on board the ship and within the cruise terminal as preventative measures.”
The outbreak could not have come at a worse time for the beleaguered cruise line. Cruise Critic, an online cruise review agency, has reported that a group of 25 passengers are suing the owners of Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, after contracting norovirus while sailing on a different ship. According to the CDC, there have been at 12 norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships in 2012 alone.