(2:35 p.m. EST) -- Days after being hit by a gastrointestinal illness that affected several hundred passengers, Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas has undergone a deep cleaning and is sailing, as scheduled.
The outbreak, which occurred during a five-night Caribbean cruise that departed December 11, left 310 passengers of 4,160 onboard (7.45 percent) ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control. An additional 23 crew members (or 1.65 percent of crew) also were struck by the illness.
The ship returned to port on Saturday, December 16, where it underwent an "intensive sanitary procedures to minimize the risk of any further issues," a Royal Caribbean statement said.
Cruise Critic member MR LED, who is onboard Independence of the Seas now, posted to the Royal Caribbean forums: "The Captain on the first day announced that the previous sailing had norovirus, they are not hiding anything. The crew is cleaning everything all the time. I think it's great to have a clean ship. So far I have not heard if anyone on this sailing has norovirus. Hopefully that continues, they are making sure we clean our hands."
Gastrointestinal illnesses, like norovirus, can cause flulike symptoms, including vomiting, low-grade fever and diarrhea. It spreads quickly when many people are confined to a small area, such as a cruise ship -- but also hotels, schools and hospitals. The best way to avoid catching the illness is to wash your hands thoroughly before and after eating and when you use the bathroom.
For more information on norovirus, read our Editors' Tips: Norovirus -- What You Need to Know.
--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor