The official illness tally from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship that returned to New Jersey yesterday, two days ahead of schedule: 630 passengers and 54 employees. That's a 20-year cruise ship record, according to CDC data, and passengers tell CNN the true number is probably much higher, since some sick people didn't bother going to the infirmary—or purposely hid their illness to avoid being quarantined. Royal Caribbean itself suspects the true number could be as high as 900, the New York Daily News reports. Here are the worst details passengers related—warning, do not read while eating:
- One passenger says that when she arrived at the infirmary, sick people were throwing up in buckets, bags, and basically everywhere, and she had to wait three hours to be seen.
- Another says the infirmary was so crowded that sick people were cramming the stairwells nearby. "People were puking into their barf bags while waiting," he says. (A different passenger estimates that, at one point, there were at least 200 people in the infirmary; she chose to disembark at a port and go to a pharmacy instead, she tells the Los Angeles Times.)
- Another passenger gets even more explicit: On the second night of the cruise, "I was in the dining room and a woman was vomiting into her napkin," she says. "There were people walking around in their pajamas with vomit and diarrhea on them. People were barfing all over the place."
- "Another passenger we became friends with said he went into the men's room and someone had gotten sick right in the floor and he stepped in it. It was bad," a passenger tells Reuters.
- Another tells CBS News, "The sick were in the hot tubs and the pools so people were getting sick that way by being near other people. They were throwing up in the hallways, the pool deck, everyone is trying to jump over it, walk through it."
The ship will undergo a "thorough 'barrier' sanitization program," but another not-at-all-comforting CNN
article notes that a Princess cruise ship experienced outbreaks on two consecutive sailings in 2012, and a Celebrity ship once saw three
consecutive outbreaks. Should the passengers ever want to set foot on a ship again, Royal Caribbean is offering them all 50% refunds and 50% off a future cruise. Those quarantined to their rooms will get even bigger discounts on future cruises. Woo hoo?