Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cruise ship passengers recall days of misery

BAYONNE, N.J. — Passengers aboard a cruise ship on which hundreds fell ill recalled days of misery holed up in their rooms as it returned to its home port Wednesday from a Caribbean trip cut short by what is suspected to be among the largest such norovirus outbreaks in the last 20 years.

Travelers aboard the Explorer of the Seas recounted hundreds throwing up, and stricken passengers having food brought to their rooms. Others were served from covered buffets by crew members wearing gloves and masks during an outbreak that sickened nearly 700 passengers and crew on the ship operated by Royal Caribbean.

Kim Waite, 50, of London, England, was on the cruise with her husband, Fred, to celebrate the end of her cancer treatments. She got severely ill, and barely saw her husband the whole trip.

"My husband had to put me in a wheelchair and take me to the infirmary. The door opened on the lift and there were just hundreds of people being sick everywhere," she said. "They were throwing up in buckets and bags — I started crying, I couldn't believe it. I was in shock."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its latest count puts the number of those sickened at 630 passengers and 54 crew members. The ship, on a 10-day cruise that had to be cut short, was carrying 3,050 passengers.

Health investigators suspect norovirus, but lab results are not expected until later this week. If norovirus is to blame, it would be one of the largest norovirus outbreaks on a cruise ship in the last 20 years, the CDC said. A 2006 norovirus outbreak on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship also sickened close to 700.

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