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(SKY NEWS) — A cruise ship has been forced to cut short a Caribbean tour after hundreds of passengers were hit by the dreaded norovirus.
Oasis Of The Seas – once the world’s largest cruise liner – is returning to a port in Florida a day early after 277 guests and crew members were struck down with the vomiting and diarrhoea bug.
Owen Torres, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean, which operates the vessel, said: “We think the right thing to do is get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health.”
Passengers complained the ship was in “complete chaos” after they were forced to stay on board when the vessel docked in Falmouth, Jamaica.
Elizabeth Schellberg wrote on Twitter: “Today is my birthday and we were so excited to go and enjoy Jamaica. Of course all of us are now stuck on the boat since some people have the norovirus.”
Another passenger tweeted: “One hell of a time on #OasisoftheSeas. I took a week off from work to sail on a boat for 6 days.
“@RoyalCaribbean this is NOT the trip we purchased. #completechaos.”
The ship will return to Port Canaveral on Saturday after it set sail from there last Sunday for a planned seven-day Caribbean cruise.
Royal Caribbean has said passengers on board will be given full refunds of their fares.
Ending the cruise early will provide “more time to completely clean and sanitise the ship” before it sets off on another voyage with new passengers, Mr Torres said.
Oasis Of The Seas has 16 passenger decks and can carry more than 6,000 guests.
Advertising for the ship promises “amazing entertainment, thrilling activities, delectable dining” and “some of the most incredible destinations in the world”.
The ship’s website greets holidaymakers saying: “Welcome to paradise.”