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Cruise returns to port after passengers get sick | Health

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Cruise returns to port after passengers get sick
Cruise returns to port after passengers get sick

Tampa, Florida - The Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas cruise ship pulled into port Saturday morning in Tampa and many of its passengers described the symptoms they suffered after coming down with a gastrointestinal virus onboard.

For Melba and Claudia from Chicago, their first cruise is unforgettable, they say. That's because, during the five day cruise to Mexico, a number of guests came down with Norovirus.

Neither wanted to give their last names but Claudia says, "There were hundreds of people sick."

While Melba and Claudia didn't get sick, they say they saw plenty of other passengers who were. Claudia says, "They were throwing up in all of the bathrooms."

Several of the sick passengers described what they experienced. Benjamin Katzenstein, 14, says, "I had to get a shot in my rear."

Jean Matthews, also a cruise passenger, says, "Stomach cramps, throwing up, diarrhea, achy body, couldn't move, headache. I was pretty well out for...the last three days."

It was Nic Vaske's first cruise. He says, "Just really nausea - a lot of throwing up and, basically, it felt like I was dying."

They say there was an immediate change on the ship once people started getting sick. Claudia says, "But we suddenly noticed that we couldn't touch food. There were no salt and pepper shakers on the table. You couldn't touch a menu, so it got to be very, very bad."

Some passengers felt the cruise line did everything in their power to make things better. Benjamin's father, Steven Katzenstein, says, "They provided free medical care. They were open and honest communicating with everyone on the ship."

Melba says, "The ship did everything they could to keep it clean. You saw people everywhere disinfecting."

Her friend, Claudia, disagrees, saying the cruise line didn't do enough. "Really, they should have done more for their customers except what they did. They just said there's a virus so what we're being careful. Goodbye."

Steven adds, "It wasn't an ideal way to spend a vacation but it was great to have a responsive business - because it is a business - to take care of my family."

The cruise line did issue a statement saying it has high health standards for all guests and crew and that Norovirus is an extremely common gastrointestinal illness.

Because the cruise line wants to sanitize the ship to prevent the spread of the illness, the Radiance of the Seas is taking off five hours later than expected on its next voyage. The ship is expected to leave around 9:30 p.m. Saturday night for its next trip. 

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