Cruise ship returns to Port Canaveral with sick passengers

Nearly 500 people sickened by suspected norovirus outbreak

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter, Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. - Health workers will greet Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas cruise ship early Saturday morning when it arrives with nearly 500 passengers who fell ill.

On Thursday, the number of people sickened by a suspected norovirus outbreak climbed to 475, more than twice as many as originally reported.

When the outbreak was first reported on Wednesday, that number was 167.

The highly contagious gastrointestinal illness causes diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Oasis of the Seas will return to Port Canaveral at 4 a.m. Saturday, a day earlier than originally planned. 

When it arrives, Brevard County health officials told News 6 that Brevard County Emergency Management officials will be there with a triage area to treat some of the ill passengers and prevent the virus from spreading on land.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will monitor their care.

Once passengers are off of the ship, CDC officials said they will board and oversee the disinfection of the ship for its next cruise, which is scheduled for Sunday.

"We think the right thing to do is get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health," cruise line spokesman Owen Torres said.

The ship was on a seven-night cruise through the Caribbean, although passengers said on social media that they were not allowed to get off the ship when it docked in Falmouth, Jamaica.

There are 6,823 passengers on board.

Norovirus is not uncommon on board cruise ships.

For a breakdown of how many incidents have happened year by year, click or tap here.

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