Cruise News600 Sick With Norovirus, Royal Caribbean Ends Cruise Early

600 Sick With Norovirus, Royal Caribbean Ends Cruise Early

UPDATE:  Royal Caribbean has announced that the Explorer of the Seas will return home 2 days early.  The total number of sick passengers and crew members is now over 600.  The cruise ship will undergo a “thorough barrier” sanitation when the ship arrives in Cape Liberty, New Jersey to make sure that all traces of the illness are eliminated. 

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Royal Caribbean also announced in the statement that guests on board will be compensated for their inconvenience and the cruise line will cover any costs in airfare changes.

Original Article:  For the second time in a week, Royal Caribbean has had to deal with cases of the norovirus on one of their cruise ships.  Out of the 3,050 passengers onboard the Explorer of the Seas, there have been 564 reported cases of the illness.  There are also an additional 47  crew members who have norovirus type symptoms.

Just last week, 66 passengers and crew members became sick on the Majesty of the Seas on a 4 night cruise to Key West and the Bahamas.

Predominant symptoms of the norovirus are diarrhea and vomiting and can last up to 72 hours.  The illness is easily spread in areas where many people are confined to a small space such as cruise ships, classrooms, dorm rooms etc.

The Explorer of the Seas is currently on a 10 night cruise that left out of  Cape Liberty Cruise Port in New Jersey on January 21, 2014 with stops in the ports of Labadee, Haiti; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Philipsburg, St Maarten.  The ship skipped the stop in Labadee, Haiti and sailed straight to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Labadee is a private resort owned and operated by Royal Caribbean.

The crew on board the cruise ship have put into action an increased cleaning and disinfection of the vessel.  They have been making announcements to notify passengers of the outbreak and are asking them to report any symptoms.   They are collection specimens from the sick passengers that will be given to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When the ship arrives in St. Thomas on January 26, a environmental health officer from the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program will board the ship along with an epidemiologist to conduct an investigation.  The outbreak will be evaluated and specimens will be sent for testing.

Cruise lines are required to report the number of gastrointestinal illness cases to the CDC if the 2% or more of the passengers and crew members become infected.

There has been much debate recently on what causes the norovirus on cruise ships and who is responsible for the outbreaks.  Passengers not washing their hands, contaminated food, sick passengers not staying confined to their cabins and embarking on the cruise when they are already sick have all been blamed for the outbreaks.

Cruise Fever will continue to monitor this latest norovirus outbreak on the Explorer of the Seas and will update this page when more information becomes available.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise News600 Sick With Norovirus, Royal Caribbean Ends Cruise Early


  1. After reading some ignorant comments on here I feel the need to speak up. I have been on a RC cruise and it was a very positive experience. A 10 out if 10. To speculate that an employee is responsible for the outbreak is just plain stupid. This virus spreads fast and quickly. Imagine being by pool area, then getting food, then going to casino then just taking a walk…. It’s easy to see how so many people become sick rather quickly. Instead of finding “someone” to blame, people should take responsibility for their Jen hygiene. When you get on a cruise with such close quarters this can happen. Let’s not blame the hard working staff. From my experience, the staff has been very clean and professional. RC was generous enough to offer to pay airline change fees and some refunds.

  2. I always travel with Hapavir tablets and have never come down with a case, even on the one cruise I was on where there was an outbreak.
    I have been on numerous RC cruises, and they do keep their ships very clean, this is a surprise to hear, but I guess that just shows you how fast this virus can spread.

  3. It has to be an employee that spread this virus. one passenger could not have infected all these people.
    all employees should have to pass a health inspection and wear gloves at all times. Sounds like typhoid mary is aboard this ship.

  4. Earlier this week, cruise expert Professor Ross Klein indicated that the CDC reported 130 passengers and 12 crew members became ill with gastrointestinal illness while cruising aboard the NCL Norwegian Star. Officially on the CDC website

  5. Several questions come to mind with these reports. How soon after the vessel left port did the outbreak onset occur? Was the onset of initial cases reasonably close? What if any prepackaged salads or other open and serve foods were served that were eaten in common by both Crew and Infected Passengers?
    Was there a common pre-boarding meal eaten by the sicked individuals? As both vessels were from the same line, did they have any kitchen staff in common? We may find through epidemiology that some onshore prepared food was the source of the virus. I am thrilled to hear that a CDC Epidemiologist is to board and investigate. Early- close time onset in a confined environment would tend to indicate a common food source intake. Let us wait for the EPI work and report and remember no Cruise Line wants to get a reputation for making folk sick.

  6. You would have to pay me to get on one of these ships of this line. You never hear of this on the Norwegian Cruise line.

    • Just got off Norwegian Star 14 days from LAX to Miami. At last report, 110 with norovirus symtoms, ship cut off self-service at buffet, required hand solvent before entering buffet area, Captain announcements, etc. Haven’t heard of a public report yet.

  7. I have been on 5 cruises with Carnival and haven’t had any problem. I did study on where I wanted and found out which ship goes that way. I have taken family and friends and will continue to do so

  8. On a Royal Caribbean ship that was going from Quebec City, Canada to New Jersey, I got sick with a virus that made me throw up alot. I went to the see the ship’s doctor and they were very nice and efficient and treated me appropriately. They did confine me to my cabin for 48 hours so that I wouldn’t spread whatever I had. They gave me full and free access to room service, free movies, free internet and they also gave me $150.00 credit toward my next cruise. Fantastic and friendly service. My wife and I have been on many cruises and this was the first time either of us have ever gotten sick. It was probably my fault because I have a bad habit of not washing my hands properly. But Royal Caribbean crew and medical staff were nothing but the very best.

  9. “symptoms of the norovirus are diarrhea and vomiting and can last up to 72 hours” – also the symptoms of food poisoning from food handlers who don’t wash their hands properly after using the bathroom. No controls on these ships.

  10. Norovirus? Joke. Food handling E. coli from poor to no hand washing in galley. Stop the propaganda and blame the culprits….kitchen food handlers!

  11. I have been on 34 cruises spanning most major cruise lines and have never been sick on a ship. Yes it does happen, but if you take precautions (like washing your hands frequently and not sharing beverages etc) you can avoid it. It’s common sense and good personal hygiene really. As far as the the other jokers comment on fires, going adrift, etc., those kinds of things happen when a cruise line doesn’t maintain their ships. If you look at which lines are responsible for most of the occurrences you will see a pattern, it’s obvious!

  12. This stuff happens ALL THE TIME.

    If people aren’t getting Sick? Then the boat is ON FIRE.

    If the boat’s not on fire, and the people aren’t sick? Then the boat is Adrift at Sea.

    And, if none of those are happening? The Boat tips over.

    How STUPID does someone have to be, to get on a Cruise Ship?


  13. I have been on only 2 Royal Caribbean cruises and have been sick twice with symptoms just like norovirus but Royal Caribbean would never acknowledge the fact and u did complaint. The good news is I was on Carnival many more times and was never sick good. Maybe Royal Caribbean should look into how carnival cleans their ships and hires their employees.

    • Or maybe you and you fellow passengers should look into how you clean yourselves? Such viruses is normally brought onboard by passengers. Crew are almost never sick

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