Lightning struck twice, and not in a good way, for a South Jersey couple who happened to be a passenger on ill-fated cruises two years in a row.
Barbara Ferguson and her husband Edward Petrasovits of Dennis Township, New Jersey, were passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas last February. During the cruise, Ferguson was one of the 630 passengers sickened due to a new Sydney strain of norovirus. It was one of the largest norovirus outbreaks on a cruise ship in the last 20 years.
While the Sydney strain is not considered unusually dangerous, it has become a common cause of cases of vomiting and diarrhea that last a few days.
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As compensation, Royal Caribbean offered Ferguson a discounted price on a future trip of her choosing. Barbara decided to go on the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas with her husband.
"We thought, well, we're gonna go again, use our voucher, have a good time," Ferguson said.
The cruise left Baltimore for the Bahamas on January 24 and was set to return Tuesday.
"The only reason I went again was because my wife said, 'what are the odds?'" Petrasovits said.
It turns out the odds were not in their favor however. Their cruise was cut short when nearly 200 passengers became sick with what officials believed to be norovirus.
“During the current sailing, Grandeur of the Seas has experienced a number of guests with a gastrointestinal illness,” said a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean. “Over the course of the sailing, 193 guests (9.91 percent) and nine crew members (1.15 percent) experienced the illness, thought to be norovirus. Those affected by the short-lived illness are responding well to over-the-counter medication administered onboard the ship.”
The boat returned to Baltimore a day early though a spokesperson said it was due to an unrelated medical emergency. While Ferguson didn't get sick this time, she told NBC10 it was still a miserable experience.
"They were cleaning [[the ship]] with a chemical that made me have a sore throat continuously," Ferguson said.
Passengers on the cruise received an on-board credit for a port the cruise skipped as well as a discount on a future voyage equal to one day of the fare they paid for the Grandeur of the Seas. Despite this, Ferguson said she has no plans on going on a third cruise.
"No, we're done with Royal Caribbean," she said. "No, absolutely not. I don't even want a voucher."