BAYONNE, N.J. — Highly contagious norovirus was to blame for an outbreak on a cruise ship that sickened nearly 700 people in one of the worst such incidents in 20 years, federal health investigators said Friday.
The Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas returned to New Jersey on Wednesday after cutting a 10-day Caribbean voyage short because so many people were ill. It was set to sail again late Friday after having undergone a sanitation procedure.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said 630 passengers and 54 crew members were sickened. The ship had 3,050 passengers.
The CDC said it has not yet pinpointed a source for the norovirus. It can be picked up from an infected person, from contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.
Norovirus is a hardy bug and it's possible that one or more passengers were infected before the cruise, came on, and ignited the outbreak by vomiting in a highly trafficked area or punching elevator buttons with feces-contaminated fingers, investigators said.
Trip ends early
A cruise ship that had more than 180 passengers and crew fall sick with an apparent stomach virus returned to a Houston-area port early due to a dense fog advisory and not because people were vomiting and had diarrhea, a Princess Cruises spokeswoman said Friday. But the Caribbean Princess passengers whose seven-day vacation was cut short Thursday questioned that version of events.