(6:10 p.m.) -- Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Liberty arrived in Ft. Lauderdale this morning after a 16-night trans-Atlantic cruise during which a grand total of 519 passengers (18.5 percent) and 141 crewmembers (12.09 percent) reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness. Carnival Liberty set sail from Rome on November 3.
In terms of percentages of ill guests and crew, this is the year's largest outbreak -- and among the largest in recent memory. Preliminary tests peg Norovirus, the highly contagious "stomach flu," as the cause.
Though nearly everyone has since recuperated (the first symptoms were reported a day into the ocean crossing), 14 guests and 5 staffers were still ill and in isolation when the ship docked. According to the Associated Press, some guests were escorted off the ship in wheelchairs by gloved crewmembers.
So what's next? Carnival has delayed the next cruise by two days for a thorough cleaning of the ship. Chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vessel Sanitation Program, Dave Forney, told the Miami Herald that CDC staff members will assist in that cleaning with 55 cleaners, wipes, bleach and more. Investigators from the CDC boarded the ship in St. Maarten on Thursday to begin nailing down the origin of the outbreak. According to the Miami Herald, medical records, patient profiles and food and water safety protocols will be examined.
After the voyage began, two passengers reported they had fallen sick and sought medical treatment in Rome before embarking.
Need details on Carnival Liberty's next voyage, now departing November 21? Click here.
Norovirus is generally spread by human contact. Learn more.