Royal Caribbean ship returns with nearly 500 sick passengers

A cruise ship will return to its Florida port one day early, after hundreds of its guests and crew were struck by the bug norovirus.

Passengers on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, at one point the largest cruise ship in the world, were reportedly not allowed to disembark when it reached Falmouth, Jamaica on a scheduled seven-day cruise.

Officials decided to return to Florida on Saturday, instead of Sunday, saying passengers would be given full refunds. "We think the right thing to do is get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health", a spokesman told the Associated Press.

Norovirus is a highly contagious disease, the symptoms of which include vomiting and diarrhoea.

"The virus spreads very easily and quickly from infected people to others, and through contaminated foods and surfaces", the CDC explains. "Norovirus can be found in your vomit or poop even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your poop for 2 weeks or more after you feel better."

A spokesman said returning to port a day early gives the cruise line "more time to completely clean and sanitise the ship" before it sets sail with a new batch of passengers.

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