A pair of ships that left Fort Lauderdale in late March for a 15-night Panama Canal voyage got thorough scrubdowns in San Diego this week after dozens of passengers on each came down with a stomach bug.
Both ships — Celebrity Infinity and Royal Caribbean International's Legend of the Seas — are owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, which is based in Miami.
According to company spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez, 99 passengers and one crew member became ill aboard Celebrity Infinity, which left Port Everglades on March 29. The number of passengers amounted to 5.7 percent of all guests on board. The ship arrived in San Diego Monday and set out on another 15-night Panama Canal cruise that will end in Fort Lauderdale. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tests showed the illness was caused by norovirus.
Legend of the Seas, which departed Port Everglades March 30, arrived in San Diego Tuesday. During the sailing, 7.4 percent of guests — or 130 passengers — and three crew members got sick with an illness believed to be norovirus. That vessel was scheduled to head out Tuesday from California on its latest Panama Canal voyage, which will also wrap up in Port Everglades.
Martinez said in an email that those who fell ill responded well to over-the-counter medication. During both cruises, she said, crew members enhanced their cleaning procedures and used special products known to kill norovirus.
An environmental health officer and epidemiologist from the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program were on hand to board the ships Monday and Tuesday to “evaluate the outbreak and response activities,” the agency said.
All guests coming aboard for this week’s voyages got a letter asking if they had experienced any gastrointestinal symptoms in the last three days. Anyone who was uncomfortable taking their cruise was offered help rescheduling.