Royal Caribbean cruise cut short by illness

Story highlights

  • Norovirus spread throughout Royal Caribbean passengers and crew
  • More than 200 people have been sickened on the ship
  • The CDC boarded the ship in Jamaica to collect samples from passengers

(CNN)The trip wasn't so grand for many guests on board Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas.

The cruise line cut short a nine-day trip to Jamaica and elsewhere by one day after more than 200 people became ill with norovirus and a passenger experienced a medical emergency requiring medical attention on land.
The ship returned to the Port of Baltimore on Monday.
    Gastrointestinal illness sickened 193 guests (9.91%) and nine crew members (1.15%), Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told CNN affiliate WBAL.
    The CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program sent two environmental health officers and two epidemiologists to collect samples on board the ship in Falmouth, Jamaica, the federal agency said. The samples will be tested, and the ship's response to the outbreak will be evaluated.
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    "Once all guests had debarked Grandeur of the Seas, we began an extensive and thorough sanitizing onboard the ship and within the cruise terminal, to help prevent any illness from affecting the subsequent sailing," Martinez wrote in an email to CNN.
    "All guests today will receive a letter at boarding that asks if they have experienced any gastrointestinal symptoms within the last three days," Martinez said. "Similarly, if guests are uncomfortable taking their cruise, for reasons related to personal health or otherwise, our staff assisted them in rescheduling their sailing for another time. The ship will depart today, as scheduled."
    Grandeur of the Seas had two norovirus outbreaks last year, according to the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program website. Overall, the CDC reported nine total norovirus outbreaks in 2014 on cruise lines that docked in U.S. ports.
    Passengers complained about the cruise line not giving them enough information.
    "It kind of seemed like they weren't being very honest with us about the whole situation. We heard that there were three people sick. Then another person said it was over 100, so, I mean, we never got a clear answer from any of the crew members," passenger Nick Canning told CNN affiliate WBAL.
    "Some people were sick three days, vomiting, diarrhea, and they got shots and medication, and they said it was just a cruise from hell," passenger Georgia Moseback said.
    Passenger April Neall definitely didn't have the honeymoon of her dreams. "I was happy to leave Baltimore and go to the islands, and now I'm just happy to be home," Neall said.
    Future cruisers should practice the same hygiene habits at sea that are wise to practice on land to stay healthy, Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, wrote in an email.
    "Wash your hands frequently and take advantage of the hand-washing stations throughout the ship," she said.
    "Prior to boarding, passengers go through a health screening aimed to help avoid the possibility of any pre-cruise illnesses being brought onboard -- it's important for cruisers to answer those questions truthfully to keep themselves, and others, healthy. Other than that, just know that passenger safety is the top priority for cruise lines, and cruise ship staff are well-equipped to prevent the spread of illness onboard as best as possible."