FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A Princess Cruises ship cut its voyage short and returned to Port Everglades Thursday morning after nearly 350 passengers reported being sick with a gastrointestinal illness.
The Centers for Disease Control said 345 passengers of the 3,035 passengers (11.4%) reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness including vomiting and diarrhea. Twenty-six crew members, out of 1,161, also reported coming down with it.
The gastrointestinal illness cases reported are totals for the entire voyage and do not represent the number of active gastrointestinal cases at any given port of call or at disembarkation, according to the CDC.
Darrell Sharp, along with his family and friends, described an unpleasant trip, several of them got sick with vomiting and diarrhea.
“Just got up in the morning and started throwing up. No signs, no nothing, it just hit and it was very violent,” said Sharp. “For 24 hours you had to either sit or kneel, it got messy.”
Trinidad and Tobago denied entry to the ship. Passengers said they were turned away by others too.
“St. Kitts was the first one they told us, no, we can’t go to, then it was Barbados. Then we’re on our way to Trinidad and that’s when they found out we couldn’t get clearance for Trinidad, so they figured we couldn’t get clearance for the rest of the ports so they turned us around,” said Jaret Sharp.
In response to the outbreak, the CDC said the ship’s crew had increased their cleaning and disinfection procedures. The ship’s medical team collected stool specimens from passengers and crew gastrointestinal illness cases and sent them for testing.
Princess Cruises said the Caribbean Princess “curtailed its voyage out of an abundance of caution due to guests reporting symptoms consistent with a mild case of gastrointestinal illness.”
“This is a highly unusual development and we share the disappointment of our guests. However, the health and safety of our guests and crew is our top priority, and in working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was decided out of an abundance of caution, in this specific instance, to discontinue the cruise,” said the statement.
It went on to say, “…there are no cases of coronavirus identified among guests or crew.”
Princess Cruises is dealing with the coronavirus on one of their ships in Japan.
Once the passengers disembark, the ship will get a super sanitation cleaning. All guests will receive a 50 percent refund on their voyage and a future cruise credit valued at 50 percent of their cruise for the inconvenience.
The ship will resume its planned itineraries on February 16th.