Celebrity Cruise's outbreaks part of a major spike in onboard stomach illnesses

Celebrity Cruise's Mercury finally left the port at Charleston, S.C. this week after three days of intensive cleaning. The scrubbing aimed to rid the ship of any traces of the intestinal illness that has hit more than 1,000 passengers over three consecutive sailings.

The three-day cleaning required 50 additional crew, who sprayed down each of the ship's state rooms from top to bottom with high-powered spray guns, and cleaned all the carpets aboard, according to the company's CEO Daniel Hanrahan. The cleaning failed to reassure many jittery travelers, who canceled their plans. Those who did board for ports of call in Florida, Mexico, Belize and the Bahamas were served in their seats, rather than allowed to visit the buffet, which remained closed.