Norovirus Hits a Small Number of Celebrity Summit Passengers in mid-Atlantic

An announcement was made yesterday warning people of the existence of illness aboard. It was followed by a letter from the Captain in each cabin last night stating that there have been “an elevated number of people onboard who experienced a gastrointestinal illness commonly known as a norovirus.”

No telling how many onboard the Summit are affected since the crew is quite tight lipped about the matter. However, 3 days ago there was an obvious attempt to prevent people from entering any dining venue until they had received a squirt of anti-bacterial gel. Throughout the cruise the crew had been stationed at the entrances to the dining rooms, but were not very insistent about the gel.

All self serve beverage stations have been closed or now are manned by crew. Salt and pepper shakers have been removed in most dining areas. All buffet items are now served by crew. See my article below on swine flu, which addresses cruise health issues. It is known to be a tricky situation because of the close living/dining/entertainment quarters of hundreds or thousands of people. I have long been an advocate of buffets aboard ships that are manned by crew only.

The Summit is offering complimentary consultations and treatment if a passenger becomes ill with a gastrointestinal illness. From the obvious extraordinary efforts to disinfect everything onboard, one could assume that the medical facility is quite busy.

Personal efforts to stay well aboard a ship are important. Washing your hands each time you enter your cabin, use a bathroom, before and after you eat and after visiting a venue where you contact surfaces that have been touched by many people such as elevator buttons, door handles, casino machines, etc. A demonstration of effective hand washing is shown on one of the ship’s television channels.

Damian de Lorenzis today said that “1% of passengers have been ill from the norovirus.” He went on to say that the CDC in the US would be notified, as per standard operating procedure. A skeptic might wonder why the ship is going to such extremes if only 20 people have become ill.

8 Responses

  1. Craig - December 9, 2009

    For further reference:

  2. SP - December 13, 2009

    Norovirus = Norwalk virus has an incubation of 24-48 hours. Summit disembarked its Transatlantic guests on Dec 12th, at least one in our party took ill the eve of Dec 12th meaning he therefore picked up his illness sometime Dec 10th or Dec 11th while on board. These were days when the full onset of “protective” measures were in effect.

    The ship did not give us as guests an estimate of the numbers ill, and one wonders in the end after accounting for disembarkation dates how many were eventually infected.

    It worries me that the boat was then taking on new passengers for the Carribbean cruise……????

  3. Elizabeth - February 23, 2010

    I was sick on that ship. 2 people from a shore excursion of 12 were sick. Most did not report to the medical officer because they would be quarentined.

  4. pam - March 2, 2010

    Thank you Elizabeth, for your comment. I suspect the numbers of sick people were far larger than the 40 reported at the Q & A session held. Sickness doesn’t have to be reported to the CDC until 3% of the passengers and I assume crew are sick. It is an unfortunate reality of cruising – when at sea, there is little accountability. Duly noted that Celebrity just had a reported instance of illness aboard the Mercury in Charleston, SC. I wrote to the CDC to report the illness aboard the Summit but received no response. It was our observation that certain preventative measures were not in place that would have exacerbated spread of the norovirus. Almost hospital standards have to be employed aboard a ship to prevent spread. Hopefully you did not miss too much of the cruise while you were ill. I feel for you!

  5. Nancy - March 3, 2010

    My husband and I took the Summit Feb 20 – 27th and my husband got the Norovirus half way through the cruise. He was so sick that after 15 hours of throwing up and diareah we had to contact the medical facility. They had to come give him a shot to stop the throwing up and he was quarantined for the rest of the cruise (3 days). I was not quarantined but had to stay in the cabin and of coarse I got it the day we were to fly home. We had to cancel the flight and stay a few extra days at a costly price. They were at a code red for the virus when we boarded the ship and they started out not letting passengers touch salad tonges, salt and pepper shakers, glasses, etc. My feeling if the ship was a code red from the previous week they should have continue the precautions the entire week. I don’t know if we’ll ever cruise again. It was that bad!!

  6. Pam - March 4, 2010

    Since the cruise I was originally referencing was the November 28th two week transatlantic and you are reporting a significant problem in late February, I would suspect that the Summit has an ongoing problem. That may be an understatement….or maybe the prevalence of norovirus is far greater than we all knew. One couple we spoke with on the Summit said there were 40 people at one time down at the infirmary so suspected the illness was far more widespread than reported. Why are we making an issue of this at this point? Incomplete reporting to the CDC should be noted. When occurrences are out of the view of the CDC, there can be a complete cover-up. Cruise lines need to be accountable for their possible lapses in disease prevention, cleanliness or reporting. Please report your situation to the CDC. You can very easily do so on their website. Thank you for your comment!

  7. glenn bridges - March 22, 2010

    What are Celebrity and other cruise ship lines doing about this frequently occurring and potentially business killing problem? I am scheduled on the Summit Nov 2010 and I use alcohol gel and I am a physician but I am still concerned about a bad experience. There is no cure for Noro and other viruses; only prevention. GB

  8. Pam - April 1, 2010

    Hi Glenn,
    There is no easy answer to this, as you know. We have found some cruise lines to be much more thorough in their care and cleaning than others. It was evident to us that the Celebrity Summit was not among them. Having said that, if the passengers are non compliant and careless, it doesn’t make a bit of difference what the cruise line does. Thinking logically about avoiding a problem is the best medicine. As I preach in my blog articles, don’t touch common surfaces with your hands. Avoid elevator buttons, handrails, buffet utensils, banisters, salt and pepper shakers or anything else touched by others. Don’t let the security people handle your key card or wipe it down and wash your hands once back in your cabin. How to avoid that? Use your sleeve, paper towel, elbow or anything else you can manage. If you are a gambler, just make sure that you don’t touch your face or even your head with your hands until you can wash them thoroughly. Same goes for public computers. One thing that I think people neglect is their cabin. Upon check in wipe all surfaces down with antibacterial wipes. If that cabin had most recently been the home of someone with norovirus (do remember that some passengers will not report their illness for fear of quarantine), the cabin is probably crawling with germs. If this all sounds overboard (forgive the pun), then I don’t think proper precautions are in place by the passenger. Is it a pain? Yes, but far less than ruining a vacation.

    I would be interested in your research on the effectiveness of alcohol gels of 60% or higher. I have read in some articles that noroviruses are not affected by them. Is that true? At any rate with the minimal amount used and slap dash method employed, I doubt that they are more than window dressing at the entrance to the ship and dining rooms.

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