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100 people fall ill aboard Disney ship

About 100 passengers on a Disney Cruise Line ship have contracted a contagious stomach virus, shortly after more than 500 people on another Florida-based cruise ship came down with a similar illness, Disney officials said Thursday.

Passengers and crew members on the Disney ship Magic became ill Wednesday. The ship departed Nov. 17 from Port Canaveral with 3,200 people on board and returns on Saturday.

Disney officials ordered the ship cleaned and disinfected at sea, said spokesman Mark Jaronski. Disney's private island, terminal at Port Canaveral, and buses that shuttle passengers from Orlando to the port will also be disinfected.

There are no plans to cancel any scheduled Magic cruises, Jaronski said.

The Disney announcement came on the same day the troubled Holland America cruise ship Amsterdam returned to port, awaiting top-to-bottom scouring after more than 500 people caught a virus on four separate voyages.

The Amsterdam will remain in port indefinitely. A trip scheduled to depart Thursday night was canceled so officials can conduct a thorough 10-day cleaning.

Holland America officials said 58 passengers and 18 crew members developed symptoms similar to the Norwalk-like virus during the 10-day voyage that ended Thursday. Eighty-seven of the ship's 1,305 passengers left the ship at various ports in the Caribbean and were flown home.

Sick passengers aboard the Disney ship will be offered compensation, Jaronski said. Those scheduled to depart on the Magic Saturday will be offered a full refund or alternate vacation should they choose to amend their plans.

"The plans right now are to sail again on Saturday, but in the end, we're going to do what's right for our guests," Jaronski said.

Passengers on the Amsterdam debarked at Port Everglades Thursday morning with more than the usual Caribbean vacation photographs and souvenirs.

Some had fevers and abdominal cramps. They said they would need a vacation to recover from their vacation. Others who managed to avoid a gastrointestinal virus had a lot of stories to tell.

"It was an adventure," said Kerry Fink, 41, who runs a small radio station in New York and was on the cruise with his wife Tammy, 37. "They had signs everywhere reminding us to wash our hands, and all the help was running around with plastic gloves."

"I took Tylenol and stayed in bed," said Mary Ann McNulty, from Harper Woods, Mich., who said she spent two days in her cabin with diarrhea and cramps. "Had I known, I wouldn't have gone on the cruise."

Passengers and crew members came up with creative ways to stave off further spread of the virus. One man said he used his knuckles instead of fingers to push elevator buttons. Another carried antibacterial solution in case someone touched him.

The crew closed the whirlpool on the deck. Instead of buffet service in the cafeteria, workers served passengers individually to cut down on the handling of food. The staff dispensed with part of the meet-and-greet with the ship's captain and crew that is a longstanding tradition on cruises.