Norovirus Outbreak Causes Delay to Cruise Ship Departure

November 7, 2012

(6:30 a.m. EST) -- A Celebrity Cruises ship was forced to delay its departure from Southampton after a suspected outbreak of norovirus onboard.

The 91,000-ton, 2,034-passenger Celebrity Constellation arrived in port at 6 a.m. yesterday (Nov. 6) at the end of a 12-night wine tasting cruise to France, Spain and Portugal. It was forced to delay its sailing until 8 p.m. yesterday while crew carried out a deep clean onboard.

Southampton's Port Health Authority confirmed about 350 passengers had fallen ill with the vomiting and diarrhoea bug.

The outbreak comes just days after it was revealed that a group of 25 passengers are suing the owners of Celebrity Cruises -- Royal Caribbean -- for £500,000 after contracting norovirus while onboard separate sailings on Independence of the Seas.

A spokesperson for the Port Authority confirmed it was informed of "concerns over increased levels of what appeared to be norovirus" several days before Constellation's arrival.

A representative of the health authority has since been onboard and verified the affected cabins, and a spokesperson confirmed that public areas onboard as well 200 cabins had been deep cleaned.

Speaking to local paper the Southern Daily Echo, passenger David Mattey said his holiday had been "completely ruined" when he went down with severe vomiting and diarrhoea.
He said: "The sanitation on that ship is bad."

A statement from Celebrity Cruises said:
“A small number of guests experienced a gastrointestinal type illness. We therefore conducted extra cleaning and sanitising onboard the ship and within the cruise terminal as preventative measures. As a result of the additional cleaning, boarding began at the revised time of 2:00pm yesterday. Our hygiene procedures on-board are comprehensive and always strictly adhered to.”
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor