SAN PEDRO (CBSLA.com) — Federal health officials investigated an outbreak of Norovirus on board the Crown Princess when it returned from a month-long cruise in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday morning.
According to the Princess Cruises Media Relations Department, the 28 day-cruise originated in San Pedro, and traveled to Hawaii and Tahiti.
Officials said more than 170 of the 4,100 people on board the Crown Princess reported having symptoms of the virus at some point during the voyage..
Over the last few days, crew members said an increased number of gastrointestinal illnesses caused by Norovirus were reported.
“In response, we have enacted our stringent disinfecting protocols developed in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” media relations officials explained in a written statement. “This includes extensive deep cleaning of the ship, and the terminal in Los Angeles on Sunday before the ship embarks on its next voyage.”
On Sunday morning, CBS2’s Joy Benedict spoke to some of the ship’s passengers about their experience.
“There were a number of people who had contracted Norovirus,” said Laura Tagliere.
According to the CDC, Norovirus is very contagious and can be transmitted from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes the stomach to become inflamed, which leads to stomach pains, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, officials explained.
“We used our elbows to push the buttons in the elevator, and took the stairs more often, tried to avoid touching handrails, and those kinds of things,” Tagliere said.
Tagliere said the 170 people were not sick at the same time.
“The captain came on board each day to let us know how many people were ill, how many people were confined to their staterooms, and it seemed to us the number went down every day,” she said.
“It had gone from 90 to 40 in like two days,” said passenger Sharon Bardill. “They kept them confined to the cabin and use room service each day, and they sterilized the rooms they were in.”
She and Tagliere credited the captain for keeping everyone calm and the crew for keeping them healthy.
“The buffet, they had it kind of Saran Wrapped off, and they had extra staff in charge of serving us instead of allowing us to serve ourselves,” said Tagliere.
“There were so many people walking around with little buckets of sanitizer,” she added.
Benedict said the ship returned to San Pedro a day later than originally planned after a crew member had to be taken to a nearby island for a medical emergency.
The cruise company credited passengers for the day lost.
Crews cleaned the ship Sunday and by 9 p.m. it departed for a trip to Mexico.