Days after Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas had to return to port early after hundreds of passengers fell ill, Carnival’s Caribbean Princess returned home to Houston last night, a day ahead of schedule, with at least 170 sick people on board.
Much like the Explorer of the Seas situation, it’s believed that the norovirus, which can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, may be to blame for the sick passengers on board the Caribbean Princess.
The Centers for Disease Control is investigating the matter. In its preliminary report, it found that 162 of the ship’s 3,102 passengers had reported feeling ill during the cruise, while 11 of the Caribbean Princess’s 1,148 crew members admitted to feeling sick.
“We have already been working with the crew in getting some stool samples so we can send that back to our labs for testing,” a rep for the CDC tells the Houston Chronicle.
Early test results turned up positive results for the norovirus.
“We were confined to our room for three days,” one passenger recalled after finally being allowed to disembark the ship. “They threatened us saying if we left they would call the coast guard. The cruise sucked.”
The official reason given to passengers for the early return to port was that fog would be cutting their trip short.
“We are upset they told us it was fog,” says another passenger after exiting the ship. “If they had said in the first place it was sickness it would have been better. We knew it was a lie when they were predicting the fog as early as Tuesday. It was a shame to miss Belize.”
The Caribbean Princess is owned by Carnival and operated under Carnival’s Princess Cruise subsidiary. The ship will undergo a “thorough sanitization” before it heads out on its next trip, which is scheduled to depart tomorrow afternoon.
A rep for the cruise line tells the Chronicle that because of the early return to port, some passengers will be put up in local hotels for the final evening of the scheduled itinerary. Passengers will also be offered a 20% discount on future cruise travel with the company.
According to the CDC’s round-up of outbreaks on international cruise ships, this is the third known outbreak already in 2014. In addition to the 700 or so people who fell ill on the Explorer of the Seas, another 142 people on board the Norwegian Star complained of vomiting and diarrhea during a cruise earlier in January.