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Two South Florida-Bound Princess Ships Hit By Norovirus

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - Two cruise ships has been hit by the tenacious Norovirus, a gastro-intestinal bug that spreads fast and leaves misery behind. It has struck two Princess Cruise Lines ships: the Ruby Princess and the Crown Princess, both headed for Ft. Lauderdale, and the line is warning passengers on the next voyage.

The Crown Princess is returning from a 7-day cruise to the Southern Caribbean and will dock at Port Everglades Saturday morning. The Ruby Princess is returning from a 7-day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, and is scheduled to dock Sunday morning.

The cruise line sent an "emergency notification" to passengers who are set to embark on those ships this weekend. saying their departure would be delayed by a Norovirus attack.

"It will be necessary for the ship to undergo a prolonged and additional disinfection in Port Everglades on Sunday," the line said in it's message to passengers, a copy of which was supplied to

The line, which is owned by Doral-based Carnival Cruise Lines, said it would delay boarding passengers, and move the embarkation process from the port to the nearby Broward Convention Center.

Aboard Crown Princess, a total of 140 passengers (4.51% of 3,103) and 18 crew (1.54% of 1,168) have been affected by the illness.  A total of 81 passengers (2.59% of 3,133) and nine crew (0.76% of 1,186) have been affected by the illness aboard Ruby Princess, according to Karen Candy, Manager of Media Relations for Princess, in an e-mailed statement Friday afternoon.

"The ship continues to undergo the highest level of sanitation to stop the spread of illness, and a comprehensive disinfection of the ship's public areas and all passenger cabins will occur during turnaround this Sunday using additional cleaning crew who will be brought aboard.  As a result, passenger embarkation will be delayed until 2 p.m."

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 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.


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