News Americas, BAYONNE, New Jersey, Tues. Jan. 28, 2014: The illness-plagued Royal Caribbean ‘Explorer of the Seas’ is set to return with over 3,000 passengers to Bayonne, New Jersey ahead of the Super Bowl tomorrow, January 29th, before taking time out to sanitize and sail again.
The Center for Disease Control yesterday said 595 or 19.5 percent of the 3,050 passengers on board are reportedly ill with vomiting and diarrhea while 50 of 1,165 crew members also reported feeling unwell.
A CDC Vessel Sanitation Program epidemiologist, one contract epidemiologist, and one VSP environmental health officer boarded the ship in St. Thomas, USVI and are sailing on the ship as it travels back to port in New Jersey.
The CDC says the team is conducting an epidemiologic investigation, environmental health assessment, and evaluating the outbreak and response activities on board.
One additional CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officer will board the ship upon arrival on January 29 to assist with the evaluation of the disinfection process. The team will continue the investigation and evaluation on the ship thru the boarding of new passengers for the next voyage.
Royal Caribbean officials on Monday said they “will be cooperating with authorities and conducting our own internal assessments to make sure we are doing all we can continue to promote the health and safety of our guests and crew.”
After ‘Explorer of the Seas’ returns to the port in New Jersey on Wednesday, RCCL officials said they will perform a thorough “barrier” sanitization program on the entire ship to make certain that any remaining traces of the illness are eliminated.
It will be the third aggressive sanitizing procedure the ship has undertaken since the company became aware of the issue, officials said.
Royal Caribbean added that all guests on the cruise will receive a 50 percent refund of their cruise fare and an additional 50 percent future cruise credit.
“Those guests who had to be confined to staterooms by illness will receive an additional credit of one future cruise day for each day of confinement on this trip. We will also reimburse airline change fees and accommodations for guests whose travel home was inconvenienced by the change of travel plans,” the company said in a statement Monday.
Explorer of the Seas departed Cape Liberty, New Jersey, on Tuesday, January 21. She was scheduled to call to Labadee, Haiti, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. She missed her scheduled port calls in Labadee, Haiti and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. The cruise was cut short and is returning two days early.