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Caribbean Princess passengers with stomach bug arrive in Florida 3 days early


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While disappointed to be back three days before their cruise was scheduled to end, many of the 4,196 passengers from a Princess ship plagued with a fast-moving gastro-intestinal bug disembarked in Fort Lauderdale this morning thanking their lucky stars that their fate is different from passengers on another Princess ship 7,500 miles away.

‘We’re happy this was just a stomach bug,’ Caribbean Princess passenger Bill Carroll, 78, from San Antonio, Florida, told DailyMail.com as he disembarked Thursday morning.

‘We did discuss with other passengers what’s going on in Japan with that other cruise ship, and we’re just thankful we’re back even in good health even if it’s early.

‘It’s a small inconvenience compared with what those people are going through,’ he added.

Carroll was referring to the Diamond Princess, a ship that’s been quarantined off Japan for almost two weeks with an increasing number of passengers catching the deadly coronavirus. 

The Caribbean Princess cruise ship has docked in Ft. Lauderale, Florida, three days ahead of schedule after more than 300 passengers and crewmembers were stricken with a fast-moving gastro-intestinal bug

Bill Carroll and his wife, of San Antonio, tell DailyMail.com that they are relieved the illness on their ship was only the stomach big and not the deadly coronavirus which has plagued other ships

Bill Carroll and his wife, of San Antonio, tell DailyMail.com that they are relieved the illness on their ship was only the stomach big and not the deadly coronavirus which has plagued other ships

Every passenger who talked with DailyMail.com described a calm situation on board despite the fact passengers started getting sick two days after leaving Fort Lauderdale on February 2

 Every passenger who talked with DailyMail.com described a calm situation on board despite the fact passengers started getting sick two days after leaving Fort Lauderdale on February 2

Authorities in Japan say that so far 174 passengers have been confirmed stricken with the respiratory illness.

In Fort Lauderdale, meanwhile, Princess Cruises said 299 passengers and 22 crew members on the Caribbean Princess fell ill from a spreading gastroenteritis that caused six to seven-hour bouts with diarrhea, vomiting and stomach aches.

Less than a week into the 14-day cruise through the Caribbean Sea, small islands where the ship was to dock for excursions started refusing access to their ports.

The ship was forced to skip stops in Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, St Kitts, Bonaire and Barbados, passengers said.

With nowhere to go, the Caribbean Princess’ captain opted to return to Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, 1,600 miles away.

Every passenger who talked with DailyMail.com described a calm situation on board despite the fact passengers started getting sick two days after leaving Fort Lauderdale on February 2.

‘The staff did a great job eradicating this thing,’ said Bob Anderson, 75, a Punta Gorda, Florida, retiree who was on the cruise with his wife Mary. ‘They really went to work when they noticed people started getting sick.’

Trinidad and Tobago's health ministry turned around the Caribbean Princess liner, which was then forced to make the 1,600-mile journey back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, early

Trinidad and Tobago’s health ministry turned around the Caribbean Princess liner, which was then forced to make the 1,600-mile journey back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, early 

After the ship docked back in Florida, passengers told DailyMail.com that they were denied food unless they disinfected their hands in front of staff

After the ship docked back in Florida, passengers told DailyMail.com that they were denied food unless they disinfected their hands in front of staff

Port workers were seen wearing gloves as passengers exited The Caribbean Princess cruiseliner several days early

Port workers were seen wearing gloves as passengers exited The Caribbean Princess cruiseliner several days early

Port workers were seen wearing gloves as passengers exited The Caribbean Princess cruiseliner several days early

One passenger described the staff constantly wiping down banisters, casino equipment, chairs, pool-side furniture, games and other items usually touched by many people

One passenger described the staff constantly wiping down banisters, casino equipment, chairs, pool-side furniture, games and other items usually touched by many people

Passengers explained how doctors and nurses ordered them to stay in their cabins after administering a shot, and then would monitor if them if they tried to leave the ship

Passengers explained how doctors and nurses ordered them to stay in their cabins after administering a shot, and then would monitor if them if they tried to leave the ship 

Anderson, who didn’t catch the illness, described hand-washing stations set up all over the 950-foot long, $500 million ship, sometimes feet apart.

He said passengers were denied food unless they disinfected their hands in front of staff. He said no food could be handled by passengers and crew served guests even at the buffet line.

‘You couldn’t even handle the salt and pepper shakers,’ Anderson said. ‘You had to call on a crew member and they’d put salt on your food for you. You couldn’t just grab your own roll.’

Anderson described staff constantly wiping banisters, casino equipment, chairs, pool-side furniture, games and other items usually touched by many people with disinfectants.

‘We saw the dancers from the nightly shows pitch in with buckets of bleach on the floor,’ Anderson said. ‘They were cleaning day and night.’

Anderson said he paid $2,600 for his and his wife’s cruise, and Princess offered reimbursement of half the fares plus a 50 percent credit off their next cruise.

After the ship arrived, drivers of buses to the airport put on plastic gloves, just in case.

‘I’ve done this a long time,’ said one driver who declined to tell his name. ‘You’ve got to be careful with luggage and handshakes and stuff. It happens about twice a year that I put on gloves when a ship pulls in.’

Passengers told DailyMail.com no border authorities at arrival at Port Everglades checked them for coronavirus.

One passenger described hand-washing stations set up all over the 950-foot long, $500 million ship to try to prevent the risk of bacteria spreading

One passenger described hand-washing stations set up all over the 950-foot long, $500 million ship to try to prevent the risk of bacteria spreading 

After the ship arrived, drivers of buses to the airport put on plastic gloves as they handled passengers' luggage

After the ship arrived, drivers of buses to the airport put on plastic gloves as they handled passengers’ luggage 

'You've got to be careful with luggage and handshakes and stuff. It happens about twice a year that I put on gloves when a ship pulls in,' one bus driver told DailyMail.com

‘You’ve got to be careful with luggage and handshakes and stuff. It happens about twice a year that I put on gloves when a ship pulls in,’ one bus driver told DailyMail.com 

Dennis Moravec, 71, a passenger from the Washington, D.C., area said he was stricken on the cruise’s second day.

He described how doctors and nurses ordered him to stay in his cabin after giving him a shot, then would check on him by phone.

‘It went on for six hours,’ said the retired GM dealership employee. ‘I was really weak. But then it just went away.’

Another passenger who asked that her name not be used said she, too, ended up confined to her cabin.

Crew members were able to keep track of her, and fellow patients, through the magnetic card that passengers use for meals, drinks and to get off at ports-of-call.

‘If you tried to get off the ship when we were still allowed to visit the ports, a red light would go on at the checkpoint and they sent you back to your cabin,’ she said.

In St. Thomas, she said, passengers spotted an ambulance picking up a passenger. But crew told passengers the emergency wasn’t related to the gastroenteritis.

James and Marlene Cloughessy from Phoenix, Arizona, tell DailyMail.com that this was likely their last 'big fun thing' and they're disappointed the cruise didn't go smoother

James and Marlene Cloughessy from Phoenix, Arizona, tell DailyMail.com that this was likely their last ‘big fun thing’ and they’re disappointed the cruise didn’t go smoother 

Princess cruise line offered reimbursement of half the fares plus a 50 percent credit off passengers' next cruise

Princess cruise line offered reimbursement of half the fares plus a 50 percent credit off passengers’ next cruise

While relaxed and rested, Jim and Marlene Cloughessy, both 77, said they were disappointed their cruises didn’t go smoother. 

Jim, from Phoenix, Arizona, is battling cancer while Marlene is suffering from acute arthritis.

The ill-fated trip was likely their last ‘big fun thing.’

‘I guess this trip wasn’t meant to be,’ retired small business owner Jim said. ‘At least, we had a nice Uber driver.’

They did get to see the sights in Martinique, St. Thomas and St. Martin before they were stranded on the ship.

When asked why she took it all in stride, a passenger from Toronto, Ontario, said: ‘It’s cold in Canada. It’s inconvenient to be back so soon, but that beats being in Toronto.’

In a statement, Princess Cruises said it ordered the ship to turn around ‘out of an abundance of caution’ when guests reported ‘mild cases of gastrointestinal illness.’

The Caribbean Princess is scheduled to set sail for another cruise on Sunday, according to the cruise line. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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