The beginning of the year hasn’t been kind to Miami-based Carnival Corporation & plc as a historic disaster off the coast of an Italian island was followed up with two cruise-related deaths in recent weeks and now an outbreak of norovirus on two Princess Cruise Line ships, another subsidiary of Carnival.
NBC Miami has learned from Princess Cruises that the total number of sick on the Ruby Princess was 92 passengers and 13 crew but totals for the Crown Princess, which arrived at Port Everglades today was even higher.
A total of 140 passengers, or 4.5 percent of total passengers, and 18 crew, have been affected by the illness, confirmed Princess Cruise Lines.
Several passengers getting off the cruise Saturday morning discussed their experiences with NBC Miami.
Sandy Palumbo, of Sarasota, says the outbreak ruined the end of her cruise.
"It's been a nightmare. We lost two full days of our cruise. We spend thousand and thousands of dollars for the cruise to have to spend it in our room (sick)," Palumbo said.
Another passenger, Karen True, said she believes she got sick after eating a fish dish with mayonaisse and cream cheese.
While Terry Vanderberg of New York said that the crew was responsive to some medical needs, others like Sal Barbagallo were less than thrilled withe cruise line's response to the outbreak.
"They were not sensitive to our needs number one. Number two, it took them 9 hours to response," Barbagallo said.
Karen Candy, manager of Media Relations for Princess, said the that the cruise line had instituted “additional enhanced sanitation procedures” when made aware of the outbreak, including thorough disinfection of frequently touched surfaces like railings and door handles, isolating sick passengers in their cabins until they are no longer contagious, and encouraging guests to use their own bathrooms.
Candy said that extra cleaning crew members would be brought aboard to do a comprehensive cleaning of both ships when they dock. The Ruby Princess is scheduled to returns to Port Everglades on Sunday, likely delaying the embarkation of the next round of passengers.
Norovirus’ symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping, and the illness usually lasts one to two days, according to the Center for Disease Control.