A Royal Caribbean ship that returned to Port Everglades Saturday morning had many passengers relieved they were on dry land after a five-night cruise to the Caribbean.
Cruise line officials reported that there were 220 cases of a stomach virus on board the Independence of the Seas after it departed from Port Everglades on Monday.
A passenger on board the ship told WSVN 7News that people began to show symptoms of the gastrointestinal illness on Wednesday.
As passengers disembarked from the ship Saturday, cruise line employees were seen wearing gloves as they handled passengers’ routine needs on dock, WPLG’s Erika Rakow posted on Twitter.
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On Thursday, Royal Caribbean distributed a letter to passengers alerting them to a possible norovirus outbreak on board as more than 200 sought attention, overwhelming the ship’s three nurses, WPLG reported.
The letter read, in part, “In an abundance of caution, we have implemented enhanced sanitizing procedures onboard, as recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Public Health Agencies worldwide.”
According to the CDC, norovirus or acute gastroenteritis, causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines or both. The most common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. One can also have fever, headache and body aches. Dehydration is the greater concern, especially among young children, the elderly or those with other illnesses.
There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness and it can’t be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral, rather than bacterial, infection.
Those who feel they have norovirus should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from throwing up and diarrhea to prevent dehydration.
The cases represented less than 5 percent of the 5,547 guests and crew members on board, Royal Caribbean spokesman Owen Torres told WPLG.
The ship, swabbed clean at Port Everglades, is due to depart Saturday afternoon.