News

Cruise ship returning to US after illness outbreak

Monday, January 27, 2014 | 5:22 PM    

Print this page Email A Friend!


KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — A Royal Caribbean cruise ship headed back to its home port in the US on Monday after hundreds of passengers and crew members fell ill with vomiting and diarrhoea 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 US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) boarded the ship during its US 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.  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 US 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 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 programme 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 US 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."

ADVERTISEMENT

POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

 

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper – email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

Did the NWC prepare adequately for the current drought?
Yes
No


View Results »


ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT