Crew members aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Elation have implemented enhanced cleaning procedures following elevated reports of nausea and vomiting onboard, common symptoms of norovirus and several other highly communicable diseases.
While none of the reports have been severe, the ship is undergoing extra thorough cleaning ahead of embarkation for the next sailing, leaving Jacksonville, Florida on Monday, January 22, 2024.
Illness Outbreak on Carnival Elation
Carnival Elation has had multiple reports of nausea and vomiting, symptoms consistent with gastroenteritis and norovirus. The bug is very easy to transmit through firsthand contact with contaminated surfaces or through contaminated food or water.
Exact numbers of guests and crew members reported ill onboard Carnival Elation have not been revealed, nor is it known whether or not the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been notified. The CDC must be notified when cases exceed 2% of either passengers or crew members onboard.
Because the 71,909-gross-ton Carnival Elation can welcome 2,190 guests at double occupancy or up to 2,697 passengers when fully booked, this would require 44-54 passengers to have reported symptoms. Similarly, 18 or more of Carnival Elation’s 900 crew members would need to report symptoms to initiate an alert to the CDC.
It should be noted that none of the reported symptoms are respiratory in nature, and the outbreak is not related to COVID-19. Carnival Cruise Line has confirmed the outbreak in a statement provided to Cruise Hive:
“Guests on Carnival Elation were advised to follow our protocols to manage gastroenteritis, after we saw a number of guests report to the ship’s medical center with various symptoms. There are no reports of serious illness and we implemented enhanced cleaning procedures and asked our guests to be diligent in frequently washing their hands.” the statement read.
Enhanced cleaning likely includes more frequent cleaning of high-contact surfaces such as counters, tabletops, buffet stations, door handles, stair railings, elevator buttons, etc. It may also include different chemicals to ensure more thorough cleaning and disinfecting, as well as extra cleaning of onboard pools and whirlpools.
Carnival Cruise Line also provides hand sanitizer stations throughout each ship, and more dispensers may be available during such an outbreak. Handwashing stations are also available outside dining areas on some ships.
More Cleaning Before Embarkation
Furthermore, Carnival Elation will undergo even more thorough cleaning after guests have disembarked on Monday and before the next sailing’s guests board the vessel.
“When Carnival Elation returned to Jacksonville on Monday, the ship underwent an extra layer to our vigorous cleaning procedures ahead of guests embarking for the next cruise.” the statement explained.
The cruise just ending is a 4-night Bahamas cruise that departed Jacksonville on Thursday, January 18, with visits to Freeport and Nassau and one day at sea. The January 22 sailing is a 5-night Bahamas cruise that will visit both Bimini and Nassau, with two days at sea.
The Fantasy-class ship is the oldest in the Carnival fleet but has undergone multiple renovations and updates since first entering service in March 1998.
Illnesses on Cruise Ships
Gastroenteritis outbreaks are not uncommon on cruise ships or any other crowded venues, such as schools, sporting events, and restaurants. In most cases, the symptoms resolve themselves within a few days without significant intervention, though the disease can be dangerous for the very young, elderly individuals, or those with immunocompromised symptoms.
In 2023, there were 14 cruise ship outbreaks reported to the CDC, 13 of which were confirmed as norovirus and one as a combination of salmonella and E. coli. None of those outbreaks were aboard any Carnival Cruise Line ship.
Already in 2024, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Constellation has reported a norovirus outbreak, but no other ships have reached the threshold necessary for reporting an outbreak to the CDC.
Guests onboard any cruise ship can protect themselves with frequent handwashing and use of hand sanitizer, minimizing how many surfaces they touch, and otherwise being cautious about cross-contamination. If they do develop symptoms, resting and staying hydrated can help the illness pass more quickly.