Royal Caribbean Cruise Illness Hits 600-Plus, Halts Voyage

Monday, 27 Jan 2014 01:05 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Illness aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise liner has forced the world's second-largest cruise ship operator to cut short a 10-day Caribbean voyage after more than 600 passengers and crew members became sick from a gastrointestinal illness.

The decision to cut the trip short was made within hours of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boarded the Explorer of the Seas during its U.S. Virgin Islands port call to investigate the illness and evaluate the outbreak response, the Associated Press reported.

According to a report published by the CDC, 577 of the ship's 3,050 passengers, nearly 19 percent, and 49 members of the 1,165-person crew, have experienced symptoms associated with the gastrointestinal illness, which included vomiting and diarrhea.

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The CDC reported that the majority of cases were found to be a norovirus, a virus that is generally transmitted through person-to-person contact or contaminated food or water.

"New reports of illness have decreased day-over-day, and many guests are again up and about. Nevertheless, the disruptions caused by the early wave of illness means that we were unable to deliver the vacation our guests were expecting," Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said in a statement over the weekend.

The cruise liner had launched from Cape Liberty, N.J., on Jan. 21 and was initially scheduled to return on Friday, but will now be docking Wednesday, the USA Today reported.

One of those Royal Caribbean passengers who got sick during the voyage was Joseph Angelillo.

"I started with upset stomach and vomiting, and that lasted all night and into the morning," Angelillo told CNN by phone Sunday. "If I can get off (the ship), I will."

According to Angelillo, several of the ship's entertainers had to cancel their performances after getting sick.

Another passenger, Arnee Dodd of Connecticut, tweeted out on Friday that she had been quarantined with other sick people and that the ship's employees "put a lockdown on food & are constantly cleaning everything," USA Today reported.

The Royal Caribbean says it plans to compensate its passengers for the premature ending and disturbance to their voyage; however details as to exactly what they will be offering was not released.

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