UPDATE TUESDAY AM:
UPDATE MONDAY AM:
Here’s Royal Caribbean’s full statement on the situation.
Explorer of the Seas will return home from its 10-day cruise two days early, after an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness that spiked over the weekend. New reports of illness have decreased day-over-day, and many guests are again up and about. Nevertheless, the disruptions caused by the early wave of illness means that we were unable to deliver the vacation our guests were expecting. 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. We are sorry for disappointing our guests, and we are taking several steps to compensate them for their inconvenience.
After returning to home port on Wednesday, Jan. 29, we will perform a thorough “barrier” sanitization program on the entire ship to make certain that any remaining traces of the illness are eliminated. It will be the third aggressive sanitizing procedure the ship has undertaken since we became aware of the issue, and will additionally provide a window of more than 24 hours where there are no persons aboard the ship, which is a significant help. 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.
At this point, it appears that reported illnesses among guests and crew peaked during the first few days of the cruise – though, as is common with many illnesses, some additional cases are to be expected over the course of the week. Our doctors tell us symptoms are consistent with that of norovirus, but that they are awaiting the results of tests to confirm that diagnosis. Our response included flying additional medical personnel and equipment to meet the ship, and conducting additional sanitizing procedures at two of the ship’s stops.
In the end, however, the number of cases was still higher than any of us want to see. 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.
UPDATE SUNDAY PM: NBC News is reporting that the number if sick on the ship has now passed 600. They state at least 564 pax and 47 crew are now reporting as ill. That works out to around 18% of passengers. Royal Caribbean will be cutting the cruise short. The Explorer of the Seas will arrive back in Bayonne 2 days early.
Originally Published on: Jan 26, 2014 @ 19:41
I don’t normally report on the Norovirus outbreaks, but it appears that Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas has had one of the worst outbreaks in a long time. Royal Caribbean has decided to push her next departure from Bayonne back to allow for a thorough sanitation of the vessel. It’s now unknown when her January 31st cruise will commence. The CDC state that around 10% of pax (300 guests) and 1% of crew (around 22 people) currently have contracted norovirus like symptoms.
They also altered her itinerary. Her first port call of Labadee, Haiti was passed up so she could arrive a day early in San Juan.
We are still awaiting Royal Caribbean’s official comment on the situation. Will update this post when received.