Over 300 fall ill on Royal Caribbean cruise

Stacy Davis and her husband Roger love going on cruises.

"Oh, we've probably been on 20 to 25 cruises, and we've never had anything like this," the Lakeland woman said.

The couple and their family boarded the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas last Monday for a five-night trip to Haiti and Jamaica.  But by Wednesday, a stomach bug started infecting them one by one.

"We had 10 in our group; my mother-in-law went down first, then my younger brother, then my step mother and then my older brother," said Davis.

The cruise line tells FOX 13 that 332 passengers got sick with a gastrointestinal virus.  However, folks who were onboard say it seemed like a lot more.

Passengers described a disgusting experience with people getting sick in the elevators and the dining room, then having to wait hours to get medical care from an overwhelmed staff.

"At one point there were 300 people in the clinic with a six-hour wait," Davis said.

"Imagine being in a waiting room and being next to five or six people all just throwing up at the same time," said another woman.

Royal Caribbean says doctors treated the 24-hour bug with over-the-counter meds. We're told the ship was disinfected during the trip, and extra cleaning was done before the next cruise departed.

"They had the crew serving people instead of helping yourselves, and they took the glasses out of our room, put in plastic cups,” Davis said.  “Friday morning they were sanitizing the hallways from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. so we couldn't leave our room until 7 in the morning."

"They took Clorox and washed literally all the poles in the dining rooms,” said one woman.  “They washed the handrails over and over and over again."

It definitely was not the vacation Davis envisioned, but she says it was still a good time with loved ones.

"We cruise a lot, so it's just one of the chances you take, I guess."

Davis and her husband did not get sick during the outbreak. 

Right now, it's unclear if anyone will be given a refund for the cruise.

Here is the full statement from Royal Caribbean:

Independence of the Seas was on a 5-night Caribbean cruise, which departed Port Everglades, Florida on December 11. Over the week, 332 cases of gastro-intestinal illness were reported— representing 5.99 percent of the 5,547 guests and crew onboard.

Those affected by the short-lived illness were treated by our ship’s doctors with over-the-counter medication, and we hope all our guests feel better quickly.

Meanwhile, we’re 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. 

We encouraged our guests and crew to wash their hands often, which health experts recommend as the best defense against stomach viruses, which each year affect as many as 300 million people worldwide—only the common cold is more prevalent.