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Outbreak of illness strikes 300 on Royal Caribbean International cruise ship

| Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, 9:21 p.m.

KINGSTON, Jamaica — American health officials on Sunday boarded a cruise ship docked in the U.S. Virgin Islands to investigate an illness outbreak that has stricken at least 300 people with gastrointestinal symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that 281, or nearly 10 percent, of the 3,050 passengers aboard Royal Caribbean International's Explorer of the Seas have reported getting sick during a Caribbean cruise that left Cape Liberty, N.J., on Tuesday. Twenty-two crew members also reported feeling ill.

Janet Diaz, spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said CDC representatives boarded the towering, 15-deck ship as it made a port call in St. Thomas, the main island of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

During the previous port call in Puerto Rico, the ship underwent “extensive and thorough sanitizing,” the company spokeswoman said.

The ship bypassed a scheduled stop at the company's fenced-in beach destination in northern Haiti to sail directly to Puerto Rico's capital.

The passengers and crew who fell ill have “responded well to over-the-counter medication being administered onboard the ship,” she said.

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