Cruise Ship Gets Extra Cleaning After 153 Get Sick

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Royal Caribbean delayed the departure of its Radiance of the Seas from Tampa after 150 of the 2,336 passengers on a cruise to Mexico fell ill with a stomach flu, believed to be the highly contagious Norovirus.

As the passengers on the "sick" cruise disembarked on Saturday, cleaning crews began a ship-wide sanitizing before passengers of the next cruise got onboard. Departure was delayed five hours.

Three crew members also caught the bug – marked by diarrhea and vomiting.

"You know, it's just no fun to go away when you're sick," passenger Joyce Shaw of Sarasota, Fla., tells Tampa's Fox 13. "It's horrible."

But Shaw, whose sister was among the ill, says the cruise line handled the situation well.

"They were very good and so was the (onboard) health department. They couldn't have been nicer. Because there were so many, they treated you for free," Shaw says.

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez tells AOL Travel News those affected by the short-lived illness responded well to over-the-counter medication administered by the ship's medical team.

With the illness typically spread through hand-to-hand contact, Martinez says the ship's crew took preventative measures including removing "anything multiple guests touch -- such as serving utensils, salt and pepper shakers, etc."

She adds the move to delay departure of the next sailing for a thorough sanitizing of the Radiance was made "in an abundance of caution."

Passengers arriving for the delayed cruise took the situation in stride.

"We're looking for a nice brew pub down the way so that's what we'll do until the ship departs," Mary Boragdy of Baltimore tells the TV station.

The ship departed five hours later than scheduled on its next five-night cruise.

Cruise ships calling at U.S. ports are required to report all cases of gastrointestinal illness to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last year there were 14 such outbreaks.

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