Reports of cruise ship Norovirus outbreaks have been reasonably scant this summer, and frankly, we've been pleased by the paucity of news. However, symptoms of the nasty gastrointestinal disorder, often unfairly linked to cruise travel, have once again surfaced -- this time on Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Millennium. The ship is currently sailing a 12-night Mediterranean voyage out of Barcelona.
Cruise Critic member Danrad, who's onboard Millennium, reported to us on Monday: "The Norovirus bug has broken out in the past couple of days! At the moment about 250 people have been affected! Celebrity has enhanced their cleaning procedures, and this is bad news yet again for the millennium [Millennium's propellers struck a rock on a June 30 sailing; the ship had to enter dry-dock for repairs]. My mother had been affected by this bug and she has been in isolation now for over 48 HOURS!"
Today, Danrad had more information to pass on: "It is reported that the outbreak was caused by a passenger who got it in Santorini and passed it on to his waiter in the dining room ... it spread from then on. The total estimate is that 250 to 300 people have been affected so far! Also, Celebrity has put in place cleaning procedures where hand sanitizing towels are constantly being given out and cleansers are everywhere."
Indeed, Celebrity spokesman Michael Sheehan has confirmed the outbreak, albeit with slightly lower numbers. From Celebrity's report: "Over the course of the sailing, 176 of the ship's 2,242 guests [8 percent] and 22 of its 957 crew members [2 percent] experienced the illness, thought to be a Norovirus brought onboard by a guest previously exposed to it. Those affected by the short-lived illness responded well to over-the-counter medication administered onboard the ship."
Celebrity has reported the outbreak to the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as is required when at least three percent of passengers are stricken.
In an effort to halt the spread of gastrointestinal illness onboard, not to mention in ports of call, Celebrity Cruises has upgraded its cleaning protocol in conjunction with CDC guidelines. This includes the use of far more potent antiseptic supplies, and the addition of two doctors and two nurses onboard.
What can you do to steer clear of Norovirus? First and foremost, wash your hands often. We suggest you always carry a trial size bottle of hand sanitizer (just make sure it is properly packed if you intend to carry it onboard a plane). For more information, see Norovirus: What You Need to Know.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor
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Norovirus Outbreak Hits Celebrity Millennium
August 28, 2007