FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A thorough scrubbing of the Carnival Liberty began as the ship docked Sunday after a virus sickened nearly 700 passengers on a trans-Atlantic cruise.
Fourteen guests and five crew remained ill and in isolation when the ship arrived at Port Everglades, Florida, according to a statement released by Carnival Cruise Lines.
More than 530 guests and 140 crew had reported to the ship's infirmary with similar symptoms during the 16-day voyage. Some passengers were escorted off the ship in wheelchairs by crew wearing blue gloves to prevent infection.
Preliminary tests identified the source of the outbreak as the highly contagious norovirus, which had struck several guests just before they boarded the cruise Nov. 3 in Rome, Carnival officials said.
A team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control boarded the cruise when it docked in St. Maarten to oversee the cleaning operation and try to determine what caused the outbreak, Carnival said.
The Liberty had been scheduled to set sail again Sunday afternoon on a six-day Caribbean voyage, but Miami-based Carnival delayed its next departure until Tuesday so crews could have extra time to disinfect the ship. Its new four-day itinerary includes stops in Key West and Cozumel, Mexico.
The Liberty, which made its maiden voyage in July 2005, is one of the world's largest cruise ships, with 13 passenger decks and room for 2,974 travelers.