Cruise ship cuts Jamaican trip short after viral outbreak onboard
The Oasis of the Seas, believed to be the largest cruise ship in the world, was forced to cut short a visit to Jamaica yesterday following an outbreak of norovirus on the sprawling vessel, local authorities have revealed.
According to reports, the ship arrived at the Falmouth Pier in Trelawny with approximately 167 reported cases of the gastrointestinal illness.
Sources revealed that local health authorities immediately went to work to contain the outbreak, which was widely reported by the international media.
"While we were doing our due diligence another 47 passengers were displaying symptoms of the virus," a source told The Gleaner.
Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett confirmed that the Oasis of the Seas departed the island hours after it arrived because of health reasons, but said he did not have all the details.
"We regret greatly that the visit was not possible because of health reasons," Bartlett told The Gleaner today.
"We are in discussions with our partners as these occurrences happen in the cruise ship business from time to time," he added.
"And when they do, we have to act in the best interest of the county and the passengers," Bartlett explained.
The 18-deck ship, which is operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, departed Port Canaveral in Florida in the United States on Sunday.
According to the reports, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines acknowledged, in a statement, that over 150 cases of Norovirus were confirmed.
"As of today, 167 cases of gastrointestinal illness have been reported since Sunday, representing two per cent of the nearly 9,000 guests and crew onboard," Owen Torres, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean, was quoted as saying in a statement.
Passengers have taken to social media to report on the outbreak and reveal that they have been prevented from leaving the ship.
"Those affected by the short-lived illness are being treated by our ship's medical team with over-the-counter medication. Meanwhile, we are bringing additional medical staff on board and we're engaging in intensive sanitary procedures to minimise the risk of any further issues," the statement from Torres said.
USA Today quoted a passenger identified as Alan Thomas who tweeted that he was "waiting to see if Jamaican authorities let us off."