January 28, 2014
Royal Caribbean also will reimburse airline change fees and accommodations for passengers whose travel home was impacted by the ship's early return to port.
Update, January 27, 10:26 a.m. EST: Passengers onboard Explorer of the Seas will receive compensation in the form of onboard credit, as well as a future cruise certificate for 50 percent of the cruise fare paid. Passengers confined to their rooms will receive additional compensation.
According to Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Janet Diaz, new reports of illness have decreased day-over-day.
Explorer of the Seas will undergo a "barrier" sanitization Wednesday, January 29, "to make certain that any remaining traces of the illness are eliminated."
The number of affected passengers currently stands at 577 (18.9 percent).
(January 26, 10:30 p.m. EST) -- Royal Caribbean has announced that Explorer of the Seas will return home two days early to allow for an extensive cleaning of the ship, its third round of sanitation since reports of gastrointestinal illness began to emerge last week.
The line says in a statement that it's working to compensate affected passengers, but no details were immediately available. The ship is due to return to its Cape Liberty homeport on Wednesday, where it will undergo one day of disinfecting and one day where no passengers will be aboard.
It's unclear at this time if the subsequent cruise, originally slated to depart on Friday, will still sail as scheduled; RCI officials had originally said it would be delayed to allow for the deep-cleaning after more than 300 passengers on the current 10-night voyage fell ill with what is suspected (but not yet confirmed) to be Norovirus.
We've reached out to the line for additional information and will update as it becomes available.
--By Ashley Kosciolek, Associate Editor