Jan 27 More than 600 passengers and crew members
fell ill aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, with
symptoms that included vomiting and diarrhea, the Centers for
Disease Control said on Monday.
The latest figure doubles initial reports of some 300
affected by what cruise officials called a gastrointestinal
illness, and includes 577 passengers and 49 crew members, a CDC
The company has said the 10-day Caribbean cruise would end
two days early, with the ship returning to its home port in New
Jersey on Wednesday.
"New reports of illness have decreased day-over-day, and
many guests are again up and about," Royal Caribbean said in a
written statement on Sunday. "Nevertheless, the disruptions
caused by the early wave of illness means that we were unable to
deliver the vacation our guests were expecting."
The CDC said in a statement that passengers and crew members
aboard the Explorer of the Seas reported becoming sick during
the voyage. The ship was carrying 3,050 passengers and a crew of
The ship departed Cape Liberty, New Jersey on Jan. 21.
The CDC said Monday the cause of the sickness was unknown
but that an environmental safety officer and an epidemiologist
boarded the ship on Sunday in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin
Islands to determine the cause of the outbreak and the proper
The ship's crew increased cleaning and disinfection
procedures and collected specimens from those who reported being
ill following the outbreak, the CDC said.
"After consultation between our medical team and
representatives of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, we think the right thing to do is to bring our
guests home early, and use the extra time to sanitize the ship
even more thoroughly," Royal Caribbean said in the statement.
The cruise line said it believes the illnesses are
consistent with norovirus, a highly contagious virus spread from
an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching
contaminated surfaces, according to the CDC.