Second Illness Outbreak in a Row:  March 17 - 27, 2006

We were on the 10 day Celebrity Mercury cruise to the Mexican Riviera and had a nightmarish trip.  Following is a bulletin I posted on CruiseCritic website and after that is a formal complaint I sent to Celebrity Corporate Headquarters.  It's been two weeks and we have still not heard anything back from this company.  We are asking for any advice you can give and are also seeking legal representation to get our money back.  We did not pay for this, were not warned of this, and were not given any opportunity to not get onboard.  If we had known any of this was going on (these events happened on the two previous cruises to ours and on the current cruise which arrives back in San Diego today)  I've also attached pictures we took while onboard.  Would appreciate any advice you can give.  Thank you,

'Abort! Jump off! Do anything but get aboard the Mercury! My fiance and I just returned from a 10 day hell at sea to the Mexican Riviera on the Mercury from March 17th- March 27th, 2006. Minus the fact that the norovirus is rampant on this boat and we were quarantined near the end of our trip there are so many other issues at hand: The boat is aged and weathered,
there is no glamour at sea on the Mercury. Because the sickness has affected the staff as well, many of the services are limited. On our cruise the Sushi Cafe was non-existant, their flagship Midnight Buffet was cancelled, different tastings were cancelled because the staff told us, "There is too much bleach in the air to serve food." The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has explained the cleaning standards but the Celebrity staff has not been trained. The boat resembles the inside of washing machine, all mirrors, windows, surfaces, and elevator doors are doused with bleach to the point that the numbers in the elevator
are sticky and unreadable. The doors and door handles to our stateroom were sprayed continuously throughout every day and night to the point that they looked like a gallon of spoiled milk had exploded on them. No matter what the signs say, never use the handrails, they are constantly dripping with a bleach-like substance that ruins your clothing and cracks your skin. Cafeful where you sit, whether pool-side or at dinner, even the chairs and tables are dripping with bleach. You would think that this would contain the problem but on our cruise several quarantined passengers who refused to stay in their room were kicked off the boat. Others refused medical attention in hopes of not being quarantined so they could enjoy the remainder of their 'vacation'. Some were concerned that if they went to the doctor they would end up with huge medical fees onboard so there was no real containmnet of the virus. In the staff's futile attempts to contain the norovirus, restaurants (like the Manhattan Dining Room), the Casual Dining Boulevard, ice and beverage dispensers near the buffet lines, including some buffet lines and gift shops were randomly closed to be sanitized. The guest relations staff was overwhelemed and responded with script-like answers and provided no real resolutions or assistance. Avoid the Mercury like the plague ...The only thing Celebrity is adept at is avoiding the situation and those seeking information and/or compensation. In reading past reviews a lot of people have been questioning whether or not it is OK to drink the water on board. It seemed filtered to us but most of the glassware were soiled with lipsitick and fingerprints. Seems like the necessary detergents to cut grease are not being used onboard. And if you have any doubts that you may be allergic to heavy chemical spraying or abrasive cleaning products rest assured you will
onboard this ship. If you are not affected with the norovirus (leading to extreme vomitting, diahrea and stomach cramps) you will experience severe migraines, congestion, and chronic tearing of the eyes from the chemical solutions sprayed courtesy of the untrained Celebrity Mercury staff ... These problems, we have recently found out, were onboard the two preivious Mercury crusies to ours. We were not warned of the probable health risks associated with getting on board nor of the severe bleaching going on. If we had known we would have never gotten onboard. Now you have been warned. It's up to you now to cancel your cruise on the Mercury.'

Attn: Richard D. Fain – Chairman and CEO Celebrity Cruises
April 2, 2006
Celebrity Mercury Cruise setting sail March 17th, 2006.
Reservations under
Stateroom #9229 Reservation # XXXXXXX

To Mr. Fain,

I would like to take some of your time to explain a serious situation that occurred on the 10 day cruise we took on the Celebrity ship Mercury from March 17th – March 27th, 2006. I am very disappointed, angry, and embarrassed due to the experiences we had onboard. We got on the boat without forewarning regarding the previous illnesses on the ship and without explanation regarding the new sanitary guidelines required by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). I was appalled at the amount of bleach being used around the ship. From literally streaks and puddles that were sprayed and never wiped up; it was everywhere. Several people on day ONE complained of bleached clothing from when they leaned up against a wall or sat on a poolside chair.  Luckily we stayed away from the elevators and the stairwell banisters where the collections of bleach were most concentrated.  If we had obeyed the signs reading, “Please use handrails,” we would have received bleach burns on our skin from the drops of chemicals dripping daily from them.  Quite the workout never using the elevator, but that was part of the
“new sanitation program”.  Not one of the employees on board would or could reveal what was in the bottles they were spraying, including the front desk guest relations people. Some of the bottles indicated an official Ecolab label and others were unlabelled. I endured severe headaches on the boat and couldn’t wait for the next ports.  To add to our duress, the tender
boats ashore at each port were delayed up to 2 hours for the boat to be cleared by officials for sanitary reasons.  We started taking pictures around the boat of blocked exits, staff in facemasks/gloves/protective clothing and windows/mirrors that were completely fogged over by the solutions sprayed randomly and never wiped off. The inhalation became so bad that we stopped the housekeeping from coming into our cabin when we noticed them spraying chemicals into the overhead vents, allowing the bleach to shower down on the bedding and such. I had severe allergic reactions to the spray and visited the medical department on the ship. After blaming my chronic tears, swollen eyes, heavy congestion, and sore throat on the bleach products, the doctor suggested I stay away from the bleach and to stay in my room. He prescribed some over-the-counter mild decongestant spray and Allegra tablets. I was left with little to do except to avoid the indoor areas of the ship and sit up on the basketball level where the staff was not spraying. 

It really seemed as though the boat was understaffed. Many of the buffet lines were closed. The beverage centers and ice dispensers were limited because of the lack of men to man them. Because we were limited on what we could touch, the problem became more and more evident as we waited for staff to assist us in every move we made. The staff eating areas were quarantined by the CDC that got onboard in Puerto Vallarta and we noticed staff eating with us, and in the shops buying
snacks because they couldn’t eat in their designated areas. The Manhattan Dining Room was closed (3/25) for breakfast and lunch in order to be sanitized, leaving it open for the third formal night dinner. We opted, due to illness, to go to the casual dining area because of our reactions to the bleach. Sadly, that was now closed to be sanitized as well. Several of the traditional onboard activities that we were looking forward to were cancelled including the Midnight Buffet, the Sushi Café, and the Rum Cake Tasting in the Logo Shop. The staff told us it was because there was, “TOO MUCH BLEACH IN THE AIR!” The front desk agents all complained to passengers in line with us that the spray was affecting them with headaches as well!

Near the end of the cruise my husband contracted the flu symptoms of the gastro intestinal disease Norovirus. He gave the medical staff onboard all the information needed and we too were quarantined. In addition to general medical background he provided a stool sample and we have yet to hear anything back from your company regarding its results. We were told by an official member of your staff that a few guests refused to stay in their rooms after being quarantined and were taken off the ship in Ixtapa…I am sorry, we didn’t go to the scheduled stop in Ixtapa…without warning we ended up in the neighboring town of Zihuatenejo instead. During the last two days of the cruise we seemed to be running out of the cruise essentials regarding food. We compiled a list of the items we were told the ship ran out of the last two days of which they had no replacements:

Croissants Bananas Hash browns
Maple Syrup (at the waffle station and in Manhattan Dining Room)
Potato Chips
Salad dressings
Dijon mustard

Illness or not, a cruise line of your stature should never run out of food. We were limited to room service after being
quarantined. I feel the Celebrity line was aware of the conditions on the ship and I feel like there should have been some sort of warning pre-boarding OR FORFEIT THE CRUISE ALL TOGETHER considering some sort of service standards/reputation your company upholds. I am susceptible to strong allergic reactions to harsh cleaning products and would have NEVER taken this cruise had we been informed of the CDC sanitation program. I feel the quality of this cruise was greatly compromised and we must be compensated for our grievances. The fact that vacuums were not allowed onboard for sanitary reasons and that we noticed sand and grit in the carpet of our room at time of check-in was horrid. The entire trip was unbearable and we are both disappointed in a company with a great reputation to continue to conduct sailings like this and angry that the staff wasn’t trained to handle these situations. The staff was shuffled around to clean and we didn’t get the service for which we paid. I purchased this trip for my husband in celebration of our engagement/honeymoon and it’s not often we are able to take 11 consecutive days off to vacation together. We chose your company to allow us a dream vacation; instead we received a nightmare at sea with nowhere to go. We expect compensation for this. I am interested in sending you the digital imaging we took on the boat including buckets of bleach, wide open at the top of the stairs each night in the Manhattan Dining Room and the staff wearing masks and gloves surrounded by passengers wearing no protective covering. We also took pictures of emergency exits being illegally blocked with furniture by Celebrity staff in an effort to get all of us to enter and exit through one door where we could be supervised sanitizing our hands.  I will include the breakdown on what I paid for this “cruise”. Thank you for reading this complaint and I expect to hear from you soon, for this is my second attempt at reaching you in specific.