BAYONNE, N.J., Jan 29 (Reuters) - Cheers erupted on board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship as it arrived back in home port on Wednesday, its voyage cut short by an outbreak of vomiting and diarrhea that felled more than 600 people.
Anthony Errico was waiting at Cape Liberty Cruise Port to greet his father, Ralph Errico, 75, of Bayonne, who was a passenger on the Explorer of the Seas.
So far, the elder Errico had not suffered the gastrointestinal symptoms that plagued others on the Caribbean cruise, but his son was exercising caution.
“We just want to see him - make sure he’s O.K., but we are taking him home in case he might have gotten it,” he said.
Altogether, 595 passengers and 50 crew members were taken ill aboard the ship, the Centers for Disease Control reported on Monday. The ship was carrying 3,050 passengers and a crew of 1,165.
The stricken passengers were quarantined in their cabins and everything they touched was placed in biohazard bags.
The ship departed Bayonne, New Jersey, on Jan. 21 and shortened its planned 10-day cruise by two days when it returned to its home port on Wednesday.
Ralph Errico’s daughter-in-law, Irene, said he would be going straight to the doctor.
“People are very ill. This is really disappointing, to get sick on a vacation,” she said.
Debbie Dooray, a friend of the family said she did not think that Royal Caribbean’s offer of compensation, including 50 percent off a future trip, was adequate.
“No, this is the people’s vacation, vacation days. And after this experience, people might not want to go on a cruise again,” Dooray said.
One of the sick passengers, Joseph Angelillo, told CNN in a telephone interview that the experience had put an end to any more cruise plans.
“I doubt I’ll ever see the inside of another ship again while it’s in the ocean,” Angelillo told CNN.
The CDC said Monday that the cause of the sickness was unknown but that an environmental safety officer and an epidemiologist boarded the ship in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Sunday to try to determine the cause of the outbreak and the proper response.
The ship’s crew stepped up cleaning and disinfection procedures and collected stool samples from those who reported feeling ill following the outbreak, the CDC said.
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.