Hundreds of passengers fell sick aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise this week due to a gastrointestinal illness — a common issue that plagues cruise lines due to close living quarters, among other factors.
The five-night cruise docked in Florida on Saturday as 332 passengers contracted a stomach-related illness, Owen Torres, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean, said. He noted that was a small percentage of the 5,547 passengers on board, and that cruise ship doctors gave those with the illness over-the-counter medicine.
Torres said the company is “taking steps like intensive sanitary procedures to minimize the risk of any further issues.”
“The ship underwent special additional cleaning procedures before it departed yesterday on its next cruise,” Torres told TIME on Sunday.
Meanwhile, hundreds of other passengers aboard another Royal Caribbean cruise recently also fell ill, according to NBC News. Of 5,796 passengers on board that ship, 209 people grew ill — five of whom were treated at an Australian hospital upon reaching land, according NBC News. That 14-night cruise docked in Sydney on Dec. 7.
When a Twitter user who had booked a Royal Caribbean cruise for the upcoming week expressed concern about the recent outbreaks, a representative for the cruise line said “we’re taking all necessary precautions onboard to assure everyone’s safety.”
Stomach illness outbreaks have long been a concern on cruise lines, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the outbreaks are “relatively infrequent on cruise ships despite its notoriety.”
Of the 74 million passengers who went on cruise ships between 2008 and 2014, 129,678 had a gastrointestinal illness and one in 10 endured norovirus, an illness that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, according to the CDC. Still, cruise line passengers are susceptible to such illnesses due to close living arrangements and the fact that passengers can bring the virus aboard the ship, the CDC said.
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