clear
Wednesday June 1st, 2016 1:28AM

Cruise line cites fog, not illness, for return

By The Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) -- A cruise ship carrying more than 160 passengers and crew sick with an apparent stomach virus returned to a Houston-area port early due to a dense fog advisory and not because people were vomiting and had diarrhea, a Princess Cruises spokeswoman said Friday.

But passengers who disembarked after their planned seven-day vacation was cut short, missing their last stop in Belize, questioned that version of events. They said the crew announced on the second day of the cruise that people were sick, apparently with highly contagious norovirus, and that extra precautions were being taken to ensure it didn't spread.

"I was worried I might come down with the illness, but as days went by I didn't, so I felt more comfortable," said Doris Hajewski, 66, of Waukesha, Wis., a suburb of Milwaukee.

"Really, if you didn't get sick, you didn't notice much, just the extra hand sanitizers and the extra precautions at the buffet," she added, explaining that after the outbreak was announced, crew served at the buffet instead of passengers being allowed to handle the food themselves.

It was on Tuesday, when the crew announced the ship would return a day early due to a sea fog advisory that could close the Pasadena port, that passengers began questioning the validity of the information, Hajewski said.

"People were unhappy with that and the sentiment on the ship became more that it wasn't because of the possible fog," she said.

A Royal Caribbean cruise returned early to New Jersey on Wednesday after nearly 700 people became ill with the same suspected gastrointestinal illness.

But Princess Cruises spokeswoman Julie Benson said the situation aboard the Caribbean Princess was not the same.

"If we did not have the potential of the closure of the port because of fog we would not have come in early," Benson said.

The Caribbean Princess departed Jan. 25 for the Caribbean, with more than 4,200 people on board. It returned Thursday night instead of Saturday. Cruise liners are required to report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if more than 2 percent of the passengers on board the ship become sick, Benson said.

Officials with the CDC boarded the ship early Friday and are overseeing a special sanitation of the vessel before it departs for its next journey on Saturday, she added. Crew will clean all surfaces of the ship - from elevator buttons to railings - with a special liquid disinfectant.

"It's a winter illness ... this is circulating widely in North America," said Benson, who explained there is a lab on board the ship to test for norovirus and crew were able to confirm the illness. "To have people come on board when they are ill is, unfortunately, not a rare occurrence."

As a result, she added, crew members closely monitor all those who report to the infirmary, especially if they complain of gastrointestinal problems.

By and large, Hajewski said that for those who did not become sick the cruise was fairly normal. She said she and her traveling companion were not infected. The pools remained open, the food was good and, at first, the weather was pleasant. Unlike the reports from the Royal Caribbean cruise that people were vomiting in bags, buckets and even on the floor, she said she didn't see anyone get sick.

She said the crew handled the situation professionally and were strict about quarantining ill passengers.

"It's just a disappointment to miss a port," said Hajewski, who was spending a night at a Houston hotel before flying home Saturday.

"When you travel, there are no guarantees that everything will go as planned no matter where you travel, whether it's a cruise, whether it's land travel, you're always taking a risk," she said.
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 1 year ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 1 year ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 1 year ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 1 year ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Big Trump checks to vets groups sent on day of media report
More than a dozen big checks flowed out of New York last week, bound for veterans' charities from Donald Trump
9:21PM ( 4 hours ago )
Obama urges public to get ready for hurricane season
President Barack Obama is urging the public to prepare for the coming hurricane season and warning against what he says is a growing "complacency" when it comes to dangerous weather
6:07PM ( 7 hours ago )
Amid shouts of 'shame,' House GOP defeats gay rights measure
Democrats shouted "shame," but House Republicans switched their votes and defeated a measure to protect gay rights
8:03PM ( 1 week ago )
CDC director Freiden warns GOP Zika bill is inadequate
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday that a House GOP measure to combat the Zika virus is inadequate to deal with the swelling threat to public health
7:36PM ( 1 week ago )
Trump unveils list of his top picks for Supreme Court
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, released Wednesday a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he's elected to the White House.
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )