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Although 600 passengers sickened on Royal Caribbean cruise, hope floats

Almost a fifth of the passengers, around 600 people, became sick with the suspected Norovirus on a 10-day Royal Caribbean International cruise in the Caribbean that left the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey, on January 21st. The truth is that the norovirus, though serious, is usually not a major problem as in this incident. According to industry reports, there were only seven outbreaks that sickened 1,238 people for the year of 2013 – a small number compared to the many trips and number of passengers that enjoy cruises each year. The media headlines are what make travelers leery and damage the reputation of the cruise lines by those media that do not report all of the facts.

The Royal Caribbean Cruises, MS Majesty of the Seas, heads out to sea from Port Miami on January 27, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
The Royal Caribbean Cruises, MS Majesty of the Seas, heads out to sea from Port Miami on January 27, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Explorer of the Seas ship has 3,050 people aboard and will return 2 days early, as reported by Business Week. “We think the right thing to do is to bring our guests home early and use the extra time to sanitize the ship even more thoroughly,” the company said. “We are sorry for disappointing our guests, and we are taking several steps to compensate them for their inconvenience.”

Everyone remembers the “so-called cruise from hell when the Carnival Triumph suffered a fire and was stranded at sea" on February 20, 2013. The incident was widely reported via TV news coverage and caused a drop in bookings across the industry. Carnival Cruise Lines is still trying to recover from that incident.

The good news is that Royal Caribbean’s Annual Report released January 27th, 2014, shows an increase from $0.10 per share in fourth quarter 2012 to $0.23 per share in fourth quarter 2013. Royal Caribbean has some 146 choices of cruises with choices of 4, 5, or 7 nights. For the 4 night cruise, the prices range from $249 USD in February to $429 USD in April for interior rooms and the cruise departs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ports of call include Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico. A 5 night cruise departing from Tampa, Florida has a price range from $299 in February to $490 in April for interior rooms. An outside room for the same cruise would cost $349 and the balcony room is $820. These prices are for the February departures. As with all cruise lines, the room prices change according to the type of room selected, the date of departure, the number of ports of call, and the amenities that are available. The 146 cruise choices can be viewed on the Royal Carribbean website for its Caribbean cruises.

Royal Caribbean was named the 2013 Travel Weekly Award Winner for Best Cruise Line in the Caribbean.

For more travel and news articles by this writer, go to Examiner.