Two dozen Connecticut residents returned this evening from the dream vacation that ended abruptly when nearly 700 passengers aboard their cruise ship got sick due to a suspected norovirus outbreak.
Royal Caribbean’s Explorers of the Sea departed from New Jersey last week to take passengers on a tropical trip. The voyage ended two days early after 630 passengers and 54 crew members grew ill, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A total of 3,050 people were on board.
Tina Krasner from South Windsor fell victim to the outbreak. She was traveling with 14 friends and family members and says four other people in her group also got sick.
“It ruined the whole cruise,” Krasner said. “The whole cruise was ruined for everybody. It started almost immediately for some people.”
Symptoms of the virus, which is often confused with the stomach flu, including vomiting and diarrhea and typically last for a few days. While health investigators suspect norovirus, they’re waiting on lab results to make an official diagnosis.
The ship docked in New Jersey on Wednesday, and a coach bus carrying Connecticut passengers arrived in Hartford around 8:30 p.m. Travelers were weary to say the least.
“I’m tired, I’m beat up and want to go home and get in my own bed now,” Krasner said.
She said the cruise line is offering passengers about half their money back, as well as a 50 percent discount on a future trip with Royal Caribbean. But although she’s been on previous Royal Caribbean cruises, Krasner says she’ll never travel with the cruise line again.
Shelley Diamond-Jean from West Hartford also got sick. Diamond-Jean said she was quarantined for most of the trip and was so sick, she skipped the sick bay and a doctor came directly to her room to treat her.
“It really was a never-ending trip from hell,” Diamond-Jean said. “It really was. I’m never going on a cruise again.”
Explorers of the Sea will be sterilized in time for its next voyage, which is scheduled to depart Friday.