Update, 2/5, 11:30 a.m. EST: A statement from Princess says that Crown Princess did not depart Fort Lauderdale until 10:30 p.m. Saturday, forcing the ship to cancel its scheduled call on Princess Cays Sunday. The rest of the itinerary remains unaffected. In related news, Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas also experienced a rash of the virus on its last sailing, which ended Saturday in New Orleans. Boarding of new passengers was delayed by an hour to allow time for cleaning. The rest of the itinerary is unimpacted.
(1:15 p.m. EST) -- Princess Cruises has announced delayed embarkation times for the next sailings of Crown Princess and Ruby Princess, following an increased number of Norovirus cases on each of the ships' current voyages.
According to statements from the line, 92 of Ruby Princess' 3,133 passengers and 13 of its 1,186 crewmembers have come down with the virus. Meanwhile, 364 of 3,103 passengers and 30 of 1,168 crew on Crown Princess were affected.
Although the numbers are relatively small, cruise lines are required to report all cases of Noro to the CDC, and a "special report" is created when numbers reach 2 percent of a ship's total onboard population. (Ruby Princess' have reached nearly 3 percent of passengers and Crown Princess' more than 11 percent.)
Because the gastrointestinal virus is highly contagious, both ships will be given special cleanings upon their return to their Fort Lauderdale homeport. As a result, embarkation for Crown Princess' next cruise will be delayed on Saturday, and Ruby Princess' will be pushed back until 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Crown Princess arrived at Port Everglades as scheduled Saturday morning, but there has been no word yet on exactly how long it will take crews to sanitize the ship, what time embarkation will start or whether the rest of the ship's itinerary -- a seven-night Southern Caribbean sailing, slated to depart Saturday evening -- will be impacted. However, Princess spokeswoman Karen Candy says Ruby Princess' itinerary, a seven-night Eastern Caribbean sailing departing Sunday, should be otherwise unaffected.
We'll keep you updated.
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor