AVERILL PARK, N.Y. – A sick cruise ship docked in New Jersey Wednesday afternoon and aboard it were a number of people from the Capital Region.
"Explorer of the Seas" cut short its Caribbean trip when more than 600 people on board became violently ill from a stomach bug believed to be the norovirus.
Anina Salerno-Aita from Averill Park arrived home two days early on Wednesday night. She said this was her first time on a cruise ship and likely her last.
"It was disappointing to say the least," she said.
Salerno-Aita said she took the 10-day Royal Caribbean cruise with her husband, Alfred, and six others. Fortunately, she didn't get sick, but her husband and some of their friends did. They were among the nearly 600 passengers and 54 crew members to become ill.
"My husband was probably one of the first who really got sick," she explained. "As soon as we finished dinner, he left the dining room and was sick to his stomach."
The local woman said the staff aboard the Explorer of the Seas wasn't prepared. She said there were only two doctors, and prescription medications were in short supply. However, she admits she's not sure what more they could have done.
"They did the best thing, the best job they could do under very trying circumstances," she said. "They were getting sick too."
The conditions onboard may have also played a part in the spread of the stomach bug since Salerno-Aita said the weather was cold the first few days and everyone was advised to stay inside.
"By the third day, they knew that there were hundreds of people sick and instead of skipping Haiti, going on to Puerto Rico," she said. "We should have either stayed in Puerto Rico and tried what to do for sick people or gone home. Why we went onto to Saint Thomas is beyond my comprehension."
Salerno-Aita said she's been told passengers will be reimbursed for at least some of the cruise. They'll also receive vouchers for a big discount off their next cruise, but she's not sure they'll be using that voucher.
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