An outbreak of gastrointestinal illness has emerged on the Caribbean Princess.

The outbreak affected 162 passengers, about 5% of the 3,105 total, on a seven-day Caribbean cruise from Houston.

Although the cause is listed as unknown by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, outbreaks during the winter are commonly traced to norovirus.

The Caribbean Princess returned to Houston Thursday night, one day earlier than scheduled, after canceling its last port call in Belize. A statement from Princess said the return was made because of heavy fog expected in the Houston area for much of the weekend.

In its statement, Princess said the cause is confirmed to be norovirus. It said about 5 passengers have active cases.

Two CDC health officers are boarding the vessel and plans are being made for delayed embarkation of the next cruise scheduled for Feb. 1, the CDC said.

Earlier this week, Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas returned two days early from a 10-day cruise in which more than 20% of the passengers had gastrointestinal illness.

The CDC posts outbreak updates when symptoms are reported by 3% or more of a ship’s passengers or crew.

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.

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