2nd cruise ship with Norovirus returns to port
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A second cruise ship has returned to port after a virus outbreak at sea.
There were over 100 reported cases of Norovirus on board the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which returned to Port Everglades on Sunday. "Of the 34, only one of ours got sick, and she was only sick for a day and a half," said Ruby Princess passenger Linda Wilkinson.
Cruise ship passengers said the outbreak of the gastrointestinal illness brought some activities on board the ship to a halt. Passenger Skip Wilkinson said, "I was scheduled for an extreme tour of the ship, which takes you down to the pilot house. It takes you to the engine room, and that tour, unfortunately, because it's behind-the-scenes in a sterile environment, was totally canceled."
The Norovirus outbreak also affected the dining experiences of the 3,100 passengers. "We couldn't serve our own food," said Linda Wilkinson. "They had people with gloves on serving all our food."
Another passenger, Judy Terrian, said, "They took all the salt and pepper off the tables. We couldn't even pick up the Sweet'N Low or any packets. They did it all. We were waited on hand and foot. That's how it ended up. It was great."
The Ruby Princess is the second Princess Cruise Line ship that returned to South Florida with dozens of passengers on board stricken with the highly-contagious illness. On Saturday, the Crown Princess came back to Port Everglades with over 200 cases of the Norovirus. Dr. Eric Braverman of Cornell Medical College said, "On cruise ships, people are in such [close] proximity, you have elderly people who are sick, you have young people who don't wash their hands, children, and then, you probably don't have in the ship's quarters, in the kitchens, enough places to clean your hands."
On both affected ships, passengers said the cruise line did everything it could to quarantine the disease and protect the healthy passengers from catching it. "I thought it was really exceptional. They were proactive, and we never felt in danger or in any kind of stress," said Ruby Princess passenger Pat Terrian.
The Ruby Princess has been docked at Port Everglades since about 5 a.m. Sunday, and crews have been working to decontaminate the ship in preparation for its next voyage, scheduled for Sunday evening.
Passengers are urged to frequently wash their hands before they board a cruise ship, and to use the bathroom in their room instead of using the public bathrooms on board the ship.
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