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Virus Outbreak Cuts Royal Caribbean Cruise Short

A 10-day Royal Caribbean cruise will end two days early due to an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness, the cruise line said in a statement Sunday night.

There are currently 577 passengers and 49 crewmembers onboard the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship who are sick, according to an email sent to Fodor's from Bernadette Burden, a spokeswoman with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many onboard have already recovered, while others are still suffering symptoms, she said.

“After consultation between our medical team and representatives of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we think the right thing to do is to bring our guests home early, and use the extra time to sanitize the ship even more thoroughly,” Royal Caribbean International said in the statement. “Our doctors tell us symptoms are consistent with that of norovirus, but that they are awaiting the results of tests to confirm that diagnosis.”

Norovirus, commonly known as the stomach flu, is very contagious, with symptoms including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain, according to the CDC. Most people feel better within one to three days after contracting the virus.

The cruise ship has flown in extra medical personnel and already undergone two intensive sanitizing programs. When it returns to homeport on Wednesday, January 29th, the ship will be sanitized again to eliminate all traces of the illness for future passengers.

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“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,” the Royal Caribbean statement said. “We will be cooperating with authorities and conducting our own internal assessments to make sure we are doing all we can to promote the health and safety of our guests and crew.”

Wherever you book your next cruise, make it a healthy one by checking out our Q&A with a cruise ship doctor's top tips for staying healthy at sea.

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