Over 500 people onboard two Royal Caribbean cruises fell ill of a stomach-related illness. Five were hospitalized, NBC News reported.
One of the cruise ships was the Independence of the Seas, which set off from Port Everglades, Florida, on Dec. 11 with 5,547 guests onboard of whom 332 fell sick.
The other ship was the Ovation of the Seas, which took off from Singapore on Nov. 23 and reached Sydney on Dec. 7, but not before 209 of the 5,796 onboard fell ill.
“Those affected by the short-lived illness were treated by our ship’s doctors with over-the-counter medication,” said Cynthia Martinez, a Royal Caribbean International cruise line spokeswoman. She commented on the Ovation of the Seas outbreak, but NBC News stated it received a similar statement regarding the Independence of the Seas.
Martinez said she had no details regarding the type of gastrointestinal illness that struck the Ovation of the Seas. The type of virus was also unknown for the other ship.
She said, however, that sanitation was boosted to “minimize the risk of a recurrence.”
Five passengers were treated at Royal Hobart Hospital, Australia’s Health Department in Tasmania confirmed. The Ovation of the Sea used standard procedure to manage and contain the illness, according to Dr. Mark Veitch, director of public health at the hospital. Such outbreaks and hospitalizations are “not uncommon,” he said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention track gastrointestinal illness cases aboard cruise ships coming to the U.S. from a foreign port. It posts online outbreaks on larger ships sailing for 3-21 days where at least 3 percent of passengers or crew “reported symptoms of diarrheal disease to the ships medical staff during the voyage,” CBC state on their website.
So far this year, CDC posted 10 outbreaks where 986 passengers and 68 crew members fell ill, mostly of norovirus. Neither the Independence of the Seas nor the Ovation of the Seas outbreak was posted by CDC. At least the latter is outside CDC’s jurisdiction.
The last posted outbreak on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line was in 2016 onboard the Anthem of the Seas, where 132 passengers and 16 crew members got sick with norovirus.
A notable outbreak struck the Royal Caribbean in January 2014, when the Explorer of the Seas saw 689 people coming down with norovirus causing vomiting and diarrhea. More than one in five of the 3,000-plus passengers fell sick.
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