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Baltimore-Based Cruise Ship Back At Sea After Possible Norovirus Outbreak

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Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Back at sea. The Grandeur of the Seas has departed after travelers waited several hours for the ship to be decontaminated. Hundreds of passengers on the previous cruise became severely ill.

Rochelle Ritchie has the cruise line’s response to the outbreak.

The ship returned to Baltimore early Saturday morning. It took several hours to make sure the Grandeur was thoroughly sanitized before it left again.

It’s the end to a long trip for Grandeur of the Seas passengers who were exposed to a virus that left more than 100 people with diarrhea and constant vomiting.

“Oh my God, we got so sick. I mean like, a stomach virus like I never had before,” passenger Kim Cerio said.

It’s the second time in two weeks a cruise ship based in Baltimore has had passengers fall sick to a gastrointestinal illness. Passengers who dodged the virus say they could definitely tell sickness was in the air.

“Going down the hallways you can smell a wreaking smell. It was gross,” one woman said.

Before the next cruise took off Saturday evening, the ship was sanitized just in time for the next set of passengers, who came prepared.

“I have medicine. I’m just excited. This is my first cruise, I can’t let it stop me,” Michelle Nwoha said.

In a statement to WJZ, Royal Caribbean officials said:

“During its last sailing, Grandeur of the Seas experienced an elevated number of persons with a gastrointestinal illness. Over the course of the sailing, 99 of 2,120 guests and 8 of 800 crew members experienced the illness, thought to be norovirus. Those affected by the short-lived illness responded well to over-the-counter medication administered on board the ship. At Royal Caribbean we have high health standards for all our guests and crew. During the sailing, we took a number of steps to prevent the transmission of the illness, including implementing enhanced cleaning procedures and protocols, and using special cleaning products and disinfectants that are proven to kill norovirus to clean throughout the ship.”

Royal Caribbean did give people the opportunity to reschedule their trip if they felt uncomfortable. Families say that would have been too difficult to do.

“School’s off this week, we have the children. That’s the reason. That’s the reason we’re here,” one traveler said.

Passengers did board the ship four hours after the usual boarding time so the ship could be cleaned. The illness on board, thought to be norovirus, has some concerned but taking their chances.

“We’re fine, we’re OK. We believe everything is going to be fine,” one man said.

Two members from the Centers for Disease Control were on board the ship during the sanitation process to make sure it was cleaned thoroughly.

According to health experts, norovirus is highly contagious. It can be transmitted through food and water.

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