Maritime malaise: Over 200 Royal Caribbean passengers struck with stomach virus
The company confirmed that there had been 220 cases of gastrointestinal illness on board the cruise liner ‘Independence of Seas.’ The ship is due to return to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Saturday morning.
“Over the week, 220 cases of gastrointestinal illness were reported— representing 4.86 percent of the 5,547 guests and crew onboard," Royal Caribbean said in a statement Friday to ABC.
Reports on social media claimed the number of virus-stricken people was much higher, but due to long queues to see a doctor many had given up waiting.
We just got off the Independence @RoyalCaribbean 220 ppl- more like most of the ship! Let me tell you the real cause of this- DIRTY DISHES and poor crew sanitation! We litterally watched a crew member pick up a rag off the floor, ONLY TO WIPE THE COUNTERS! #independenceoftheseas— Ciara Jude (@ciarajudeblog) December 16, 2017
A freelance cruise writer on board the ship said on Twitter that several of her family members were sick and waited for hours to see a doctor.
So we are now up to "most" of the crew and passengers are sick with norovirus. Independence of the Seas is sailing completely full, yet it is a ghost ship. People quarentined to their cabins. #norovirus#Independence@CruiseCritic@RoyalCaribbeanpic.twitter.com/GW98OPSMlM— Cruise Niche (@CruiseNiche) December 15, 2017
This was never our intention. Rest assured, we're taking the necessary precautions and assisting our guests with medical help onboard. Our guests’ health and safety is our #1 priority and we’re doing everything possible to ensure a safe sailing. -Steph— Royal Caribbean (@RoyalCaribbean) December 15, 2017
People also reported a strong stench of vomit in several areas of the ship
It was most of the ship! They're only telling you who reported it. Everyone looked sick, and highly populated areas REAKED of vomit and diarrhea.— Ciara Jude (@ciarajudeblog) December 16, 2017
Alex Brown said on Twitter that he and his wife were confined to their cabin for two days.
Disappointed in @RoyalCaribbean and how they handled the largest norovirus outbreak I’ve ever seen. My wife and I both spent 2/5 days in isolation. All we will get is a credit for one guest for 2 days. JOKE! Will take a lot for me to sail on a Royal boat in the future!— Alex Brown (@AlexBrownSwag) December 16, 2017
The company said that those affected were treated by the ship’s doctors with over-the-counter medication. The illness is thought to be Norovirus; symptoms of which include vomiting and diarrhea.
Another passenger posted photos of the boat on social media and claimed it was dirty.
I'm very upset this dirty boat ruined our family vacation. I final got cleared to leave the room today :)I sure hope you guys do the right thing. I have many many more photos of the dirt if you like?Thank YouDave— Dave Wallace II (@davewallaceii) December 15, 2017
“Meanwhile, we’re taking steps like intensive sanitary procedures to minimize the risk of any further issues. The ship will also undergo special additional cleaning procedures before it departs on its next cruise,” the statement pledged.
The same vessel is scheduled to embark upon another cruise Saturday afternoon.
The virus outbreak is the second to hit a Royal Carribean cruise ship this month. More than 200 people fell sick on board ‘Ovation of the Sea’ during a 14-night trip; the ship departed from Singapore on November 23 and arrived in Sydney on December 7.
Royal Caribbean issued a similar statement at the time confirming those who had been taken ill were being treated by onboard doctors and sanitary efforts were being made to minimise further risk.
Norovirus is very contagious and can infect anyone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can be contracted from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.