The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Cruise ship sailing back to US port after illness outbreak sickens 626 people in Caribbean

  • Print

KINGSTON, Jamaica - A Royal Caribbean cruise ship headed back to its home port in the U.S. on Monday after hundreds of passengers and crew members fell ill with vomiting and diarrhea during what was supposed to be a 10-day getaway in the sun.

The Miami-based company announced Sunday evening that it was cutting short the Explorer of the Seas' jaunt in the Caribbean a few hours after officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boarded the ship during its U.S. Virgin Islands port call to investigate the illness.

According to the CDC, 577 out of 3,050 passengers reported being ill during the voyage that left Bayonne, New Jersey, last Tuesday. That's nearly 19 per cent of the vacationers. Forty-nine crew members also got sick.

Royal Caribbean's medical team said the symptoms were consistent with the common and highly contagious norovirus. It is rarely fatal, but the CDC says it can be serious, especially for youngsters and older adults. The virus spreads quickly in closed quarters through contaminated food or liquids, contaminated surfaces, and direct contact with an infected person.

CDC spokeswoman Bernadette Burden said tests would have to confirm what caused the illness outbreak on the 15-deck ship. Five samples were shipped to the U.S. health agency's lab Sunday.

"We won't know for a couple of days what the pathogen is. Cruise ships are unique. It can be difficult to identify a specific source," she said in a Monday email.

She said there had been no fatalities and no one was removed from the ship.

An Explorer of the Seas passenger named Arnee Dodd fell ill aboard the ship last week and was quarantined like the other sick people. In a Sunday tweet to The Associated Press, the Connecticut woman said: "We are all better, quarantine is over and ship has been sanitized every day."

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said Sunday evening that "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."

It said a full sanitization program would be carried out after the Explorer of the Seas reached its home port Wednesday.

The CDC team of two epidemiologists and one environmental health officer are aboard as the ship sails to New Jersey.

Aubrey Manzo of the online cruise reviews guide Cruise Critic said all the passengers are travelling back to the U.S. on the Explorer of the Seas. "They do not have the option of getting off the ship prior to its arrival" in Bayonne, she said in an email.

Royal Caribbean said it was "taking several steps" to compensate passengers for the shortened trip and the inconvenience. It also sought to assure customers scheduled for the ship's next voyage that "all possible measures will have been taken to prevent further problems."

___

David McFadden on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dmcfadd

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Kevin Cheveldayoff announces Maurice contract extension

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local/Standup- BABY BISON. Fort Whyte Centre's newest mother gently nudges her 50 pound, female bull calf awake. Calf born yesterday. 25 now in herd. Four more calfs are expected over the next four weeks. It is the bison's second calf. June 7, 2002.
  • Two Canada geese fly Wednesday afternoon at Oak Hammock Marsh- Front bird is banded for identification- Goose Challenge Day 3- - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Now that the snow is mostly gone, what are your plans?

View Results

Ads by Google