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Dream cruise has nightmare ending for dozens of passengers who fall ill

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Thousands planned to enjoy their dream vacations on board the Royal Caribbean, but for many of them, the cruise ended in a health nightmare.

According to CNN, sixty-six of the more than 2,500 passengers on board the Majesty of the Seas, which docked in Miami Friday, experienced gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Two of the more than 800 crew members reportedly became sick, as well.

Norovirus is expected to be the culprit in the illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes noroviruses as a group of related viruses. Infection with these viruses causes gastroenteritis, which is inflammation of the stomach and intestines. This leads to symptoms noted by the Royal Caribbean passengers: stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The CDC says norovirus affects nearly 20 million people in the U.S. each year, and results in between 570 to 800 deaths.

The CDC reports there is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection. Additionally, there is no drug to treat people who get sick from the virus. Even so, CNN reports that the cruise line said passengers affected by the illness had responded well to over-the-counter medication administered on board the ship.

The company said it enhanced cleaning on board the ship during the cruise to help prevent the spread of the extremely contagious illness.