December 16, 2017
A Royal Caribbean cruise ship was forced to return to Florida after hundreds of passengers contracted a gastrointestinal illness.
332 cases of the illness were reported during this five-night cruise reported Owen Torres, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean. He emphasized that it was only 5.99% of the more than 5,000 passengers and
crew on-board the ship, Independence of the Seas.
"Those affected by the short-lived illness were treated by our ship's doctors with over-the-counter medication," Torres said, "and we hope all our guests feel better quickly."
What caused the illness is still unknown at press time.
"It was just terrifying," Tracy Flores, a passenger whose 15-year-old son came down with the illness, told CNN affiliate WPLG Saturday. "Just the amount of people that
were coming in at the same time with vomiting and diarrhea and just looked ghastly."
Some passengers who were disembarking Saturday in Port Everglades, Florida, believed that the number of passengers who fell ill was perhaps higher than what Royal Caribbean stated.
"We talked to plenty of people who said that they were too sick to even make it down to the (ship's) medical facility," passenger Marsha Homuska told CNN's WSVN.
Torres, the Royal Caribbean spokesperson, told CNN that Royal Caribbean is "taking steps like intensive sanitary procedures to minimize the risk of any further issues," and that the ship will
"undergo special additional cleaning procedures before it departs on its next cruise."
"We encouraged our guests and crew to wash their hands often, which health experts recommend as the best defense against stomach viruses, which each year affect as many as 300 million people
worldwide," Torres said, adding, "only the common cold is more prevalent."
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