Celebrity Cruises has reached out to guests who have sailed aboard Celebrity Ascent with notification of a Legionella diagnosis for two passengers who sailed aboard the ship in January 2024.

The notification has been sent in an abundance of caution, and the disease is not contagious between individuals, but lives in water droplets. Enhanced sanitation has been implemented onboard as a precaution.

A letter sent to recent Celebrity Cruises guests has informed them of a confirmed diagnosis of Legionella from two prior guests onboard the brand new Celebrity Ascent.

“Your health and safety are always our top priority, and out of an abundance of caution, we are reaching out because the CDC advised that two guests who sailed on Celebrity Ascent in January were later diagnosed with a respiratory illness known as Legionella,” the email notification read.

To be clear, the guests were not diagnosed onboard the cruise ship, nor has there been a recognized outbreak linked to a specific sailing.

“While they do not know if these guests were exposed onboard or elsewhere, we are working with the CDC to ensure awareness,” the email explained.

As soon as the cruise line was notified, extra sanitation protocols were implemented aboard Celebrity Ascent. This would include extra cleaning of vulnerable surfaces and equipment as needed, and changes to operational protocols to limit any potential spread.

It should be noted that the disease is not spread through person-to-person contact, but instead is a bacterial infection passed via contaminated water droplets such as through air conditioning condensers, hot tubs, water dispensers, and similar sources.

Celebrity Ascent Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks)

The disease also occurs naturally in freshwater ponds, lakes, and rivers, as well as in municipal water supplies, public pools, decorative fountains, hot water tanks, and other water sources.

To protect their privacy, further details about the exact Celebrity Ascent sailing or the infected guests’ names or identifying information has not been released. It is not known whether the individuals are related or were traveling together, though that does seem likely.

The 3,260-passenger, 140,600 gross-ton, Edge-class ship officially joined the Celebrity Cruises fleet in December 2023. Celebrity Ascent is now homeported from Fort Lauderdale, offering Caribbean and Bahamas itineraries until she moves to the Mediterranean in late April for the summer sailing season.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella – in its more severe form, Legionnaires’ Disease, and in its more mild form, Pontiac fever – has an incubation period of 2-14 days. It is unknown whether or not the individuals who tested positive after their cruise aboard Celebrity Ascent contracted the illness from the ship or from some other source prior to boarding.

It is also unclear exactly when the disease was confirmed, and given the variance in the incubation period, it is even possible they contracted the disease after the sailing. Droplets of contaminated water must be breathed in for infection to occur, or contaminated water must otherwise get in the lungs.

Celebrity Ascent Resort Deck

Read Also: Cruise Ship Illness – How to Protect Yourself

Typical symptoms of both Legionnaires’ Disease and Pontiac fever include coughing, fever, muscle aches, headaches, and shortness of breath. Severity of symptoms will vary between individuals, and may be confused with pneumonia or similar diseases.

Individuals at increased risk include those over the age of 50, anyone with a weakened immune system, or those with compromised breathing abilities, such as current or former smokers or individuals with emphysema or similar conditions.

In 2018 – the most recent year with complete data – roughly 10,000 cases of Legionnaires’ Disease were reported in the US. It is believed the disease is likely underreported due to the similarity of symptoms with other illnesses. The disease can be contracted at any time of year, but is more common in summer and early fall.

Celebrity Cruises is urging any passengers who experience symptoms associated with Legionnaires’ Disease within 14 days of sailing aboard Celebrity Ascent to seek medical attention and alert medical authorities to their recent travel.

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