An Aledo couple is back home after battling norovirus on the Caribbean Princess cruise ship this week.
The Caribbean Princess set sale on Jan. 25 from Houston, bound for the western Caribbean for seven days with more than 4,000 people on board. The ship was not scheduled to return until Feb. 1.
The ship arrived at the Port of Houston at about 9 p.m. Thursday, more than 24 hours sooner than scheduled, and just one day after a Royal Caribbean cruise returned to New Jersey early amid a virus outbreak that sickened hundreds aboard.
Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. stated that the ship returned early due to dense fog. The vessel was also carrying more than 100 passengers and crew who fell ill at sea.
Larry Siener and his wife, of Aledo, told NBC 5 that they will remember their experience on the Caribbean Princess, for all the wrong reasons.
“It is the sickest been in a long time that norovirus is a nasty nasty bug,” said Siener.
Siener felt sick at dinner on Monday, just two days into his trip.
“Things developed rapidly from there. Chills, Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea. Pretty much the entire gambit,” Siener said.
He said the cruise followed Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which means staying in your room until 48 hours after the last symptom. Unfortunately, his wife fell ill with the virus, too.
The two spent five of seven days on the ship in their cabin.
“After a few hours you have seen everything you can see on TV. You have read everything you have brought with you. At that point you are very bored,” said Siener.
The crew delivered all of their food to them. Siener says he gives the medical staff and the crew good marks. They have been offered 20 percent off if they want to cruise with them again. They may take advantage of that, but not anytime soon.
“It is going to take a little while to put this behind us,” Siener said.
The cruise line released a statement on Friday to clarify any confusion about the early arrival of the ship.
Caribbean Princess has returned to the Port of Houston and passengers have disembarked. The ship was forced to return to Houston one day early because we were informed that dense fog was expected to close the port for much of the weekend. The ship did not return early because of the increased incidence of norovirus on board, despite some media reports.
On January 29 we received the following weather report from ImpactWeather, a respected weather forecasting company, which prompted our decision:
Two fog events are expected during the next week. The first is expected to begin Friday morning and last through Sunday afternoon. Southeasterly winds are expected to bring increased moisture into the area. This will lead to the formation of the fog on Friday.There will likely be patchy fog in the morning and early afternoon. However, dense fogshould form in the late afternoon and evening hours. Breaks in the fog are not likely untilthe cold front moves offshore late Sunday morning or early Sunday afternoon. Thus, weare expecting that the ship channel will be closed for parts of Friday, all day Saturday,and Sunday through the afternoon hours. The second fog event will begin about 24 hoursafter the first event ends. This is because southerly winds will become reestablished overthe area, once again bringing moisture into the area. This second fog event is expectedto end late Tuesday, when another cold front moves offshore. Thus additional closuresare likely from late Monday afternoon or evening through late Tuesday.
Regarding the illnesses onboard this past cruise, Caribbean Princess experienced an increase in the number of reported cases of gastroenteritis among passengers, which was confirmed to be caused by norovirus, a common gastrointestinal illness which is currently widely circulating throughout North America. In response, we immediately implemented aggressive and comprehensive disinfection measures developed in conjunction with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As a result of our actions, case numbers declined significantly and by the end of the cruise there were no passengers with active symptoms. Over the course of the 178 passengers (5.7%) and 11 crew (1%) reported ill to the Medical Center.
We notified the CDC who boarded Caribbean Princess this morning to oversee the extensive sanitation program planned over two days. The next cruise will depart tomorrow as scheduled, February 1.