Royal Caribbean cuts short cruise due to illness

By Tom Stieghorst
Royal Caribbean International said it will bring Explorer of the Seas back to port two days early to combat an illness outbreak.

At least 281 passengers, 9.2% of the 3,050 onboard, and 22 crew, 1.2% of the 1,165, reported being ill during the cruise, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said on its website.

Typically, the cause of large outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness this time of year is norovirus, which is easily spread among passengers in the confines of a cruise ship.

Explorer will return to New Jersey from its 10-day Caribbean cruise on Wednesday, Jan. 29, rather than Friday, Jan. 31.

Royal Caribbean said the extra two days would provide time for a thorough sanitizing of the entire ship.

Royal Caribbean said it will be the third aggressive sanitizing procedure the ship has undertaken since it became aware of the issue. It will provide for a window of more than 24 hours where there are no persons aboard the ship.

Guests scheduled for the next cruise on Explorer of the Seas can be confident that all possible measures will have been taken to prevent further problems, a Royal Caribbean statement said.

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly. 
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