Joe and Sandi English, of Hershey, are among the hundreds of passengers on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship now headed home due to an illness outbreak.
The couple has been on several cruises, but their most recent one on The Explorer of the Seas was cut short when more than 500 passengers reported vomiting and diarrhea. It is believed the illness is being caused by the norovirus.
"As of this moment we are all fine," said Joe. "I think things are going well. The crew has been marvelous. Every crew member is sanitizing everything, constantly."
In an attempt to keep the illness from spreading, passengers are not allowed to serve their own food.
"We can't touch anything—food, utensils, glasses," said Joe. "They are handling things to the best of their ability with what they got. The young dancers that do the stage shows were serving lunch yesterday singing and dancing. The overall feeling of the passengers is split with the ones that understand and feel everyone is doing their best, and of course the other half are up in arms because they feel it shouldn't have happened."
Cruise Holidays of Carlisle books cruise line vacations year-round and says cruise lines do what they can to prevent these types of outbreaks from happening
"It is actually something that's brought on by one of the passengers or the crew, and with a lot of people in close quarters it spreads," said Roseann Haney, owner of Cruise Holidays of Carlisle. "Every passenger is given a brief questionnaire before they board the ship, asking them if they have experienced symptoms of norovirus prior to boarding the ship. If they say yes they are quarantined right away, but if they say no and they are sick, it is hard to prevent it. Plus with the norovirus, you are contagious before you realize you are sick."
According to Joe, Royal Caribbean has given every passenger a 50 percent discount certificate on their next cruise within the next year. The couple expects the ship to dock in New Jersey on Wednesday, two days early.