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posted: 2/2/2014 2:55 AM

Cruise ship sails two days after early return

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  • Passengers wait to get off the Caribbean Princess cruise ship Friday, after it returned to a Houston-area port.

      Passengers wait to get off the Caribbean Princess cruise ship Friday, after it returned to a Houston-area port.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- A ship was to set sail from a Houston-area port two days after returning from a cruise a day early with more than 180 ill passengers and crew aboard.

The Caribbean Princess was to embark on a cruise of the western Caribbean on Saturday, the Houston Chronicle reported. Princess Cruises had said the Caribbean Princess returned early on Thursday because of a dense-fog advisory, not because of an outbreak that left people vomiting and with diarrhea.

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A spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Chronicle that CDC investigators had found nothing unusual or unique about the Caribbean Princess illnesses as of late Friday.

But passengers, whose seven-day vacation was cut short making them miss their last stop in Belize, say crew members announced on the cruise's second day that people were sick -- apparently with highly contagious norovirus.

A Royal Caribbean cruise returned early to New Jersey on Wednesday after nearly 700 people became ill with the same suspected gastrointestinal illness. Princess Cruises spokeswoman Julie Benson has said the situation aboard the Caribbean Princess was not the same, however.

Benson said the ship would not have come in early had it not been for the potential of the port's closure due to the fog.

The National Weather Service says it issued a warning about sea fog from Friday through Sunday. The Port of Houston says pilots halt all docking activity if fog is too dense.

The Caribbean Princess departed Jan. 25 for the Caribbean with more than 4,200 people on board. It returned Thursday night instead of Saturday. Cruise liners are required to report to the CDC if more than 3 percent of the passengers on board the ship become sick.

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