FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A cruise ship returned to Port Everglades on Thursday morning after an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness forced it to cut short its voyage.
The Caribbean Princess arrived about 7 a.m. after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 300 passengers and more than two dozen crew members fell ill with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea.
Princess Cruises said Monday that the ship, which was in the midst of a 14-day cruise in the Caribbean Sea, would return to port early “out of an abundance of caution due to guests reporting symptoms consistent with a mild case of gastrointestinal illness.”
Frank Boguth was one of the passengers who got sick. He spoke to Local 10 News from the balcony of his cabin on the ship.
“We weren’t allowed to handle utensils,” he said. “Everything was handed to us at the buffets. People were at every station to put things in your plates. They just went out of their way to take care of things, but, you know, it’s just one of those things that got out of hand.”
One person was taken off the ship by paramedics.
Some passengers said the crew was working overtime to try and stop people from getting sick.
“All we saw was the staff cleaning, cleaning, cleaning,” Rosemary Neilson said. “Everybody was cleaning, but they still couldn’t get a handle on it.”
Passengers who were leaving told Local 10 every single staff member on the ship, including the officers, were taking the situation very seriously.
“Oh my gosh, I never saw so much cleaning going on. They were wiping down rails and everything,” Joan Bruehl said. “They did a great job.”
Because the trip was cut short, passengers will receive a 50% refund and will get a 50% credit for a future cruise.
Shortly after the ship arrived, a sanitation crew could be seen headed toward it.
Some crew members for the next Caribbean Princess voyage could be seen wearing masks as they prepared to board the ship, which is expected to resume its travel schedule after a thorough cleansing.
“This is a highly unusual development and we share the disappointment of our guests,” the cruise line’s statement read. “However, the health and safety of our guests and crew is our top priority, and in working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was decided out of an abundance of caution, in this specific instance, to discontinue the cruise.”
There were 4,196 guests and crew members on the ship, according to the statement.