(6:08 p.m. EST) -- A massive outbreak of gastrointestinal illness aboard Celebrity Mercury will delay the ship's next sailing by one day, according to a statement released by Celebrity officials.
The ship, which returned to Charleston today after an 11-night Caribbean sailing, was inspected by CDC officials after 419 of the ship's 1,838 passengers -- almost 23 percent -- became ill.
To allow time for additional sanitation, the ship's next sailing -- originally a 10-night Western Caribbean voyage, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Friday -- will, instead, depart at 5 p.m. on Saturday and will be cut short by one day, bypassing the first scheduled port call in Key West.
In the statement, Dan Hanrahan, Celebrity's president and CEO, apologized to passengers affected by the delay and said the extra time will prevent the next round of cruisers from getting sick.
To make up for the lost day, Celebrity plans to offer affected passengers future cruise certificates and onboard credit, based on the cruise fare paid.
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor
Gastrointestinal Outbreak Delays Celebrity Mercury
February 26, 2010