11 JAN 2019: Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas is returning to a Florida’s Port Canaveral a day early and giving passengers full refunds of their fare after 277 guests and crew members were hit with an outbreak of Norovirus as it sailed to Jamaica.  

Cruise line spokesman Owen Torres told The Associated Press “we think the right thing to do is get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health.”

He says the ship will return to Port Canaveral on Saturday. It sailed from there Sunday on a seven-day Caribbean cruise.

Passengers took to social media on Wednesday, tweeting they were forced to stay onboard after docking in Falmouth, Jamaica, for what was supposed to be a day of excursions.

Torres says returning a day early gives the cruise line “more time to completely clean and sanitize the ship” before it sails again.

Cruise ships are expected to report Norovirus outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention any time the number of passengers affected surpasses two percent of the total passenger count. When more than three percent of the passengers are stricken, the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program posts the incidents on its website. 

Oasis’ outbreak is the first to meet the threshold for CDC reporting in 2019 . The vessel has passed every sanitation inspection since its first in 2010.

Norovirus, which most commonly causes vomiting and diarrhea, is spread through contaminated food, surfaces and through contact with people who have it.

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