The ship had already left Hawaii and was headed toward Ensenada, Mexico, when the two passengers independently became sick (Norovirus was not to blame), according to a company spokesperson. Although the ship was not yet halfway to Mexico, it was quite far from Hawaii, and so the turnaround took quite some time. A helicopter evacuation was not possible because by the time the ship was close enough to Hawaii, it was too dark to proceed safely. Instead, the ship traveled all the way back to the islands, where the passengers were tendered ashore and taken to a medical facility.
Celebrity Mercury is heading straight to San Diego so as not to further delay the subsequent cruise. Because the ship stops in Ensenada to comply with the Passenger Vessel Services Act, Celebrity might get fined for skipping the port. However, the cruise line determined the better course of action was to get its passengers back to San Diego as soon as possible and risk the financial penalty.
Travelers on the current cruise who booked their air arrangements through Celebrity will be rebooked on appropriate flights by the cruise line's travel department. Passengers who booked their own airfare will not be compensated. However, when Celebrity Mercury reaches San Diego, Celebrity will provide all passengers with transportation to the airport or to hotels where Celebrity has reserved blocks of rooms at corporate rates, should they need a hotel.
Passengers on the November 6 cruise can board the ship between noon and 4 p.m. on Friday, November 7. Celebrity is contacting all guests on this sailing, and will have staff at the port on Thursday to help travelers make arrangements for spending an extra day in San Diego.
--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor