In the latest tale of a cruise turned nightmare, federal health officials said they’d stay on board the Royal Caribbean cruise ship until it docks in New Jersey on Wednesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are guessing that the culprit of the stomach bug is norovirus, which is particularly contagious in close quarters like cruise ships and causes vomiting and diarrhea.
Health officials are looking for the source, attempting to confirm that the diagnosis of norovirus is correct, and keeping an eye on the 577 passengers and 49 crew members who are sick.
“Our team is on the ship and will stay on board until it returns to New Jersey,” said Bernadette Burden, a spokeswoman for the CDC.
The ship has already made an emergency stop and sanitized twice, the cruise company said. There are 3,050 passengers and 1,165 crew on board.
Sick passengers are being asked to remain quarantined in cabins, and encouraged to rest and take fluids.
Because it only takes a tiny bit of virus to spread, and because the virus can survive on surfaces like doorknobs, norovirus seems to be a common side effect of cruises: In 2013, 2,315 cruise passengers reported the illness.
Photo: Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Sea. Credit: Royal Caribbean