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Returning home early is partly about getting passengers home safe, but mostly about giving the cruise line the maximum time possible to clean the ship before it heads out again.
The Caribbean Princess cruise ship is returning to Houston early tomorrow morning after 165 passengers fell ill with norovirus, the same intestinal disorder that forced another ship to cut short a trip this week.
Passengers still experiencing symptoms of the virus, which include nausea and vomiting, have fallen to three, according to Julie Benson, a spokeswoman. The Caribbean Princess, run by Carnival Corp.’s Princess Cruises, is carrying 3,104 guests and a crew of 1,149, including 11 who were also affected, she said.
Officials of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention will board the ship tomorrow to ensure it’s properly sanitized before departing on its next trip on Feb. 1, the company said today in a statement. Passengers are being offered a 20 percent discount on a future cruise and on-board credit to compensate them for the early return.
The outbreak follows a similar incident this week on the Explorer of the Seas operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. That ship returned early to Cape Liberty, New Jersey, after 595 passengers out of 3,050 became ill with a gastrointestinal illness believed to be norovirus.
The outbreak on the Caribbean Princess was confirmed to be norovirus, according to Benson, who said the ship has the facilities on board to make such a diagnosis.
The Caribbean Princess was scheduled to return on Feb. 1, according to Benson. It will dock in Houston after midnight local time, cutting short its seven-day itinerary by one day because of forecasts indicating the port would have to close because of fog, she said.
The ship skipped a scheduled stop in Belize after visiting Cozumel and Roatan, Honduras, Benson said.
Carnival, the world’s largest cruise operator, rose 1.3 percent to $40.04 at the close in New York. Shares of the Miami, Florida-based company rose 9.2 percent last year.
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