Cruise Ships with Sick Passengers Dock in Florida

Friday, December 15, 2006
For the third time in two months Sunday, luxury cruise ships sailed into South Florida ports bearing sick passengers. More than 100 passengers and crew arrived in Port Everglades on Princess Cruise's Sun Princess showing symptoms of norovirus, a gastrointestinal illness that resembles stomach flu. And 99 passengers and 11 crew members came down with the virus on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas -- for the second time in a week, said officials with the Miami-based cruise line and federal regulators. Freedom of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, was held over at the Port of Miami for additional cleaning under the direction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two additional doctors and 45 more cleaning staff will board the ship for its next Caribbean voyage, now scheduled to begin Tuesday. The CDC issued a no-sail recommendation for Freedom of the Seas, spokesman Curtis Allen said Sunday night.

On Dec. 3, the same cruise ship returned to Miami with nearly 400 people ailing from the same symptoms after a seven-day cruise. On the Sun Princess, the latest outbreak struck 97 of 2,013 passengers as well as six crew members after the vessel returned from a 10-day Caribbean cruise. Spokeswoman Julie Benson of the Santa Clarita, Calif.-based cruise line said those stricken were complaining of stomach illnesses such as diarrhea, cramps and vomiting.

The Sun Princess underwent extensive cleaning but still set sail later Sunday as scheduled, Benson said. She calculated the stricken passengers at almost 5 percent of the ship's total roster. On Nov. 19, Carnival Cruise Line's Liberty pulled into Port Everglades after a 16-day cruise in which 534 of 2,804 passengers complained of an intestinal virus. Of the 1,186-member crew, 142 were treated for the sickness. Source: Sun Sentinel


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