Oasis of the Seas passengers return to Port Canaveral a day early.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship carrying 9,000 passengers, including guests and crewmembers, will return to Port Canaveral a day early after a widespread episode of a gastrointestinal bug. The illnesses and the decision to return also prompted Royal Caribbean to issue an apology to the ship’s passengers.

Original story posted Jan. 9:

An outbreak of Norovirus struck more than 100 passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas – one of the largest cruise ships in the world – as it arrived in Jamaica on Wednesday.

The ship departed Port Canaveral on Sunday.

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Passengers aboard the 18-deck vessel took to social media to talk about the illness and to report that guests were kept aboard the ship for hours after it docked at Falmouth port on the northern side of Jamaica. The ship was on a seven-night cruise through the Caribbean.

“As of today, 167 cases of gastrointestinal illness have been reported since Sunday, representing 2 percent of the nearly 9,000 guests and crew on board,” said Owen Torres, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean in a statement emailed to FLORIDA TODAY late Wednesday.

He did not immediately confirm whether a quarantine of the vessel took place.

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“Those affected by the short-lived illness are being treated by our ship’s medical team with over-the-counter medication. Meanwhile, we are bringing additional medical staff on board and we’re engaging in intensive sanitary procedures to minimize the risk of any further issues,” Torres said.

Passengers complained that those on the ship were not allowed off and that guests remained on board for several hours before finally leaving for the next destination, Cozumel.

“We’re docked at Falmouth Jamaica. Level 3 Norovirus outbreak. 100+ passengers and a crew member sick. Canceled shore excursion. Waiting to see if Jamaican authorities let us off the ship,” tweeted Alan Thomas, a passenger who also wrote that Royal Caribbean was offering one day of cruise credit.

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Norovirus — which is typically the most common cause of foodborne diarrhea — includes stomach-gripping symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea. The ship’s crew and medical staff were undertaking an intensive sanitary sweep of the 1,187-foot long vessel. The Oasis is expected to return to Brevard Jan. 13.

The ship is currently based at Port Canaveral but was expected to begin sailing out of Bayonne, New Jersey in May.


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