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Monday, March 3, 2014

Second cruise ship in a week hit by illness

Another cruise ship has returned to its home port early in the wake of an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness.

Princess Cruises' Houston-based Caribbean Princess arrived back in the city late Thursday, more than 24 hours ahead of schedule.

More than 160 of 3,104 passengers on the vessel had fallen ill with a gastrointestinal illness that the cruise line suspected was norovirus -- a highly contagious infection that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea.

The incident comes just days after a massive outbreak of a norovirus-like illness forced an early end to a sailing of Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. The ship returned to its home port of Bayonne, N.J. on Wednesday -- two days ahead of schedule -- after more than 20% of 3,071 passengers fell ill.

While the Caribbean Princess' early return will allow time for a thorough cleaning before its next sailing, the decision to return ahead of schedule was prompted not by the outbreak but by a forecast for thick fog over the weekend that is likely to close Houston's port, the line says in a statement sent to USA TODAY.

"We are mindful of our passengers' safety and comfort, as well as the disruption the port's closing will have on their onward travel plans," the statement says.
Like Explorer of the Seas, the Caribbean Princess was on a Caribbean cruise. The ship set sail from Houston on Jan. 25 and was scheduled to return on...
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