Cruise Passengers Return Home After Norovirus Outbreak

By Jim Ehmke

Published 01/30 2014 04:38PM

Updated 01/30 2014 04:59PM

48 passengers from the Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas returned home to Greater Binghamton last night. The group was organized by veteran travel agent Bob Horbey of Plaza and Sawtelle Travel.

The ship returned to port in New Jersey two days early after hundreds of passengers and crew members got sick with a gastrointestinal illness believed to be the norovirus. Horbey says it's not the first time he's been on a cruise struck by contagious illness, however this was the most wide spread. He says about a dozen members of his group fell ill, including his wife. Nevertheless, Horbey says many in his group are seasoned travelers who took the difficulties in stride.

"People have short memories. Most of the people in my group, they're telling me what they want to do next year. So, they're raring to go," said Horbey.

Horbey says the Royal Caribbean staff went out of their way to accommodate the guests and keep things sanitary. He says snack bowls were eliminated from the bars and staff served food from the buffet using gloves and tongs. The ship ended up missing two out of four ports of call. Everyone aboard received a 50 percent refund plus a voucher for half off the cost of a future cruise.

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