The Celebrity Constellation set sail on 3 January on a nine-night cruise with 2,056 guests onboard. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by 12 January the ship had 100 cases of norovirus with 92 guests and eight crew having reported symptoms of stomach flu by the end of their trip.
This is the first cruise ship outbreak of 2024, according to the CDC, while of the 13 norovirus outbreaks on US cruises in 2023, three were on Celebrity Cruises ships. This includes an episode in May 2023 that infected almost 200 travellers on the Celebrity Summit ship.
Norovirus is one of the most common virus outbreaks to occur on a cruise. Bustling ships are the ideal environment for the highly contagious virus to spread, either through infected people, or through contaminated water, food or surfaces.
Norovirus is commonly associated with cruises. However, last year Benjamin Lopman, Professor of Epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, told USA Today that cruises make up only a “tiny minority of norovirus outbreaks”, with most cases taking place in healthcare settings.
As reported by Business Insider, despite recurring outbreaks, in 2023, three Celebrity Cruises ships received a perfect sanitation score from the CDC following random ship inspections.
This comes after last year’s UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) report stating that cases of norovirus had increased by 37% compared with the same period before the pandemic.