Royal Caribbean Cruisers Ill With Apparent Norovirus

A cruise ship has returned to port with passengers sickened by norovirus.

ByABC News
March 8, 2013, 5:03 PM

March 8, 2013— -- A Royal Caribbean cruise ship has returned to port with more than 100 passengers sickened by a stomach illness thought to be norovirus.

Vision of the Seas returned to Port Everglades, Fla., after an 11-night Caribbean cruise. One hundred five passengers and three crew members fell ill, the cruise line said. There were 1,991 guests and 772 crew members on board.

The ship returned as scheduled and ill passengers responded well to over-the-counter medication being administered on board the ship, Royal Caribbean International said.

The Centers for Disease Control, which tracks norovirus outbreaks on its website, did not yet have a record of the incident.

In a statement to ABC News, the cruise line said, "At Royal Caribbean International, we have high health standards for all our guests and crew. During the sailing, we conduct enhanced cleaning on board the ship to help prevent the spread of the illness. Additionally, when Vision of the Seas arrived to Port Everglades, Fla., today, we conducted an extensive and thorough sanitizing onboard the ship and within the cruise terminal to help prevent any illness from affecting the subsequent sailing."

Vision of the Seas just concluded an 11-night Caribbean sailing that included port calls to Basseterre, St. Kitts; Roseau, Dominica; Bridgetown, Barbados; St. George's, Grenada; Kraledijk, Bonaire; and Oranjestad, Aruba.

According to the CDC website , "Norovirus is a very contagious virus. You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up."

Because of the close quarters on a cruise ship, norovirus tends to spread quickly.

The ship was scheduled to depart on its next voyage late Friday afternoon. In an email to passengers scheduled to depart on today's Vision of the Seas cruise, the cruise line said, "We will conduct enhanced sanitizing onboard the ship and within the terminal to help prevent any illness from affecting your cruise."

The last recorded outbreak on a cruise line was in December 2012 on Cunard's Queen Mary 2. The CDC reported 194 passengers and 11 crew reported fell ill during the voyage. The same month, there was a norovirus outbreak on another luxury cruise ship: The Emerald Princess. In that case, five percent of all passengers -- 166, plus 30 crew -- fell ill on the sailing.