Celebrity Cruise Ship Hit with Stomach Bug

October 2, 2013
(9:40 a.m. EDT) -- More than 300 passengers on Celebrity Summit have been stricken with a gastrointestinal illness the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified as Norovirus. The ship is in the middle of a two-week sailing.

"During its current sailing, Celebrity Summit has experienced an elevated number of persons with a gastrointestinal illness," Celebrity spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez confirmed with Cruise Critic, adding that 311 of the 2,113 passengers and 14 of the 954 crew members had fallen ill. "Those affected by the short-lived illness have responded well to over-the-counter medication being administered onboard the ship."

In response to the outbreak, which is affecting some 14.5 percent of passengers, Celebrity has amped up cleaning and disinfection procedures onboard Summit and increased public announcements to advise of the outbreak.

According to the CDC, its Vessel Sanitation Program will send on epidemiologist and one environmental health officer to meet the ship in Bayonne, New Jersey, to conduct an onboard investigation and monitor the sanitation procedures before new passengers will be allowed on board. Specimens were collected and offloaded in Halifax, Canada, where testing in Health Canada's laboratory confirmed Norovirus.

Affected passengers will be compensated for the time they are confined to their cabins, though Martinez did not specify how much they'll be given. Additionally, people scheduled for the next sailing who feel uncomfortable getting on the ship will be permitted to reschedule their sailings.

Gastrointestinal illnesses such as Norovirus are not limited to cruise ships but spread quickly when many people are together in a small spaces. Nursing homes, hotels and schools are especially susceptible. Symptoms typically last for 24 to 48 hours, but people can be contagious before and after they experience symptoms. For more information, see our story Norovirus - What You Need to Know.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor