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"Sick" Ship Now Clean, Departs S. Fla.

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Princess Cruise Line ship "Crown Princess" departed Saturday afternoon after undergoing two days of intensive cleaning following back-to-back outbreaks of the norovirus.

Nearly 60 crew members and 114 passengers reported illness on its most recent voyage, according to Princess Cruises.

The company decided to return to Port Everglades on Thursday, two days earlier than planned so it could spend time disinfecting the ship.

In a statement, the company said: "The enhanced disinfection of the ship in Fort Lauderdale will include bringing aboard additional cleaning crews to assist with a thorough sanitization of all public spaces and surfaces including soft furnishing and carpets, railings, door handles and the like. The staterooms will be sanitized multiple times before making up the rooms with fresh linens and towels on Saturday morning, just prior to passenger embarkation."

It was the second time in two weeks the ship reported passengers and crew will from the norovirus, which attacks the gastrointestinal system.

Many who got sick were confined to their rooms as they dealt with bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.

Two weeks ago, nearly 400 people became sick.

In addition to refunding the cruise fare, Princess Cruise Lines said they will help arrange flights home, pay for flight change fees, provide hotel accommodation if necessary and offer a 25 percent discount on a future cruise.

Cruise ships have struggled with containing the threat of the norovirus, which is common in the general population but which spreads more easily among large groups in concentrated areas, like those found in a cruise ship.

The disease is passed by contact with infected people, items they touch, such as food in buffets, and human waste. Most cruise lines have hand sanitizer stations aboard, and regularly urge passengers to use them.

However, it's easy for the disease to spread even in clean environments.

Princess Cruise is owned by Doral-based Carnival Cruise Lines.


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