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CDC Looking into Second Viral Outbreak on Cruise Ship in Two Weeks

Photo Courtesy Royal Caribbean(BALTIMORE) -- Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas is scheduled to leave Baltimore on its next voyage on Saturday afternoon, but will need approval from the Centers for Disease Control after its last two cruises saw passengers fall ill.

During its last trip, which departed on April 5, 99 of the ship's 2,120 guests and eight of the 800 crew members experienced an illness believed to be norovirus. In a statement, Royal Caribbean said that steps were taken during the last cruise to prevent transmission of the illness -- including "enhanced cleaning procedures and protocols, and using special cleaning products and disinfectants that are proven to kill norovirus."

Due to extra cleaning, Saturday's departure was pushed back to about 6 p.m. All guests are expected to receive a letter when they board asking whether they have experienced any gastrointestinal symptoms in the last three days. Royal Caribbean also said that passengers can also reschedule their trip if they are uncomfortable on the ship.

Two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers and one epidemiologist will board the ship on Saturday to conduct an investigation and evaluate both the outbreak and the cruise line's response.

The previous journey, which departed on March 28 and returned to Baltimore on April 5, was also affected by a similar illness, with 111 of 2,122 passengers and six of 790 crew members falling ill. The CDC confirmed the illness on that trip was caused by norovirus.

The CDC says up to 300 million people around the world are stricken with norovirus, a figure only surpassed by the common cold.

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