Cruise Ends Early After Gut Bug Sickens 300 Diarrhea, vomiting force 10-day Royal Caribbean cruise back to shore By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Jan 27, 2014 12:54 AM CST Updated Jan 27, 2014 3:13 AM CST 25 comments Comments The Royal Caribbean International's Explorer of the Seas is seen docked at Charlotte Amalie Harbor in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. (AP Photo/Thomas Layer) (Newser) – A Royal Caribbean cruise liner is being forced to head to shore early after a stomach bug rapidly spread throughout the ship, resulting in hundreds of vomiting passengers. Some 303 people—281 of them passengers, which works out to 9% of the ship's guests—became sick with vomiting and diarrhea that match the symptoms of norovirus, reports the Miami Herald. The Explorer of the Seas will return to New Jersey on Wednesday, two days ahead of schedule, to remove all traces of the highly infectious bug, which is spread by touch or by contaminated food and water, NBC reports. "We think the right thing to do is to bring our guests home early, and use the extra time to sanitize the ship even more thoroughly," a spokesman for the company says; it was cleaned twice along the way after the illness broke out. It's been a sickly month for cruise passengers: 66 became ill on another Royal Caribbean cruise, and 130 were sickened on the Norwegian Star.