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Caribbean cruise ends with boatload of sick passengers

A total of 108 passengers and eight crew members became sick with a stomach virus on a five-day Caribbean cruise that returned home on schedule Saturday, Royal Caribbean International said.

The mass outbreak of a Norwalk-type virus aboard the Enchantment of the Seas was traced to a man who had symptoms two days before boarding the ship Monday, said company spokesman Michael Sheehan.

A cleaning of the 1,950-passenger ship was expected to delay Saturday's scheduled departure a few hours.

Passengers preparing to board were given letters explaining the delay and were cautioned about the need for proper hand-washing during the cold and flu season.

The cleaning involves use of disinfectants, especially in "high-touch" areas such as counter tops, elevator buttons and computer keyboards.

Norwalk-like viruses, which affect 23-million Americans a year, were blamed for a rash of cruise ship illnesses more than a year ago, prompting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate several lines.

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