(April 4, 10:55 a.m. EDT) -- Carnival Corp. confirmed that Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises ships will begin calling on Grand Turk on Monday, April 8. Ships have been bypassing Grand Turk since mid-March after a gastroenteritis outbreak struck locals and cruise ship passengers alike. Carnival brand ships account for the vast majority of cruise calls to Grand Turk.
According to a statement released by the Grand Turk Cruise Center, a task force comprised of cruise line health experts and local public health professionals performed extensive testing on all aspects of the port's operations, including procedures, systems and equipment.
"The task force and related extensive testing throughout Grand Turk did not conclusively determine that there was a direct link between [passengers'] reported cases of gastroenteritis and the passengers' visits to the island," the statement says.
Allegations by a local Turks & Caicos news source that the source of the outbreak is contaminated groundwater near the port were strongly denied by the Grand Turk Cruise Center.
Despite a lack of concrete evidence linking the cruise terminal to the outbreak, every area of the facility underwent a "thorough and extensive cleaning and sanitization process," a port spokesman said.
Carnival Freedom will be the first ship to return on port April 8, followed by Carnival Breeze on April 9.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor