Norovirus Outbreak Sends Cruisers Home Early
With over 275 passengers suffering from a norovirus outbreak, Royal Caribbean has made the unexpected decision to cut Oasis of the Seas’ current cruise short, bring everyone back home and offer all of the passengers on board a full refund.
“We Think It’s The Right Thing To Do”
The situation on the ship has gotten progressively worse since it left Port Canaveral on Sunday. By the time Oasis of the Seas arrived in Jamaica on Wednesday, over 150 passengers were sick and all shore excursions had been canceled.
According to local media in Miami, the number of sick passengers has now reached at least 277, prompting the decision to bring the ship and her passengers home. “We think the right thing to do is get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health,” Owen Torres, a spokesperson for the cruise line, told the Associated Press.
As a result, the ship will return to Port Canaveral on Saturday as opposed to its original Sunday arrival date.
Read More: Royal Caribbean Guests Kept On Ship Due to Norovirus
Torres added that returning a day early would give Royal Caribbean “more time to completely clean and sanitize the ship” before it’s next scheduled sailing, which would have Oasis departing Port Canaveral on Sunday, January 13th.
“Only The Common Cold Is More Prevalent”
In a letter distributed to passengers yesterday, Royal Caribbean said the following: “During this sailing, there have been a small percentage of guests onboard who have experienced gastrointestinal illness, thought to be Norovirus. According to health experts, nearly 300 million people worldwide are affected by Norovirus each year. Only the common cold is more prevalent.
“In an abundance of caution,” it continued, “we have implemented enhanced sanitizing procedures onboard, as recommended by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and Public Health agencies worldwide. you will likely see some of these activities throughout our sailing, as we are taking all steps necessary to maintain our high health standards.”
After giving instructions on the best ways to avoid falling ill, the letter went on to say that they had “no reason to believe that any illness will have any impact on the remainder of our sailing.” Of course, that turned out not to be true, as a day later the decision was made to bring the ship and her passengers home early.
Read More: 2018 Norovirus Report Released
Some passengers set to depart on the next sailing are concerned that there won’t be enough time to get the ship thoroughly, but Royal Caribbean is offering assurances via its Twitter feed. “Unfortunately,” they said to one such passenger, “we did experience an outbreak on the current Oasis sailing. I see you’ll be boarding on Sunday, but no need to worry. We’re taking all necessary precautions to ensure your safety as well.”
It’s worth noting that it’s rare to see outbreaks on the same ship on two consecutive sailings. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened — in 2010, the Center For Disease Control issued a four-day “no-sail” recommendation after a Celebrity Cruises ship had outbreaks on three consecutive sailings — but it’s incredibly rare. And as was reported earlier this week, only 10 ships had outbreaks impacting a large enough percentage of passengers that they were required to be reported to the CDC.