The Caribbean Princess, owned by Carnival Corporation subsidiary Princess Cruises, departed U.S. shores on Feb. 2 and is making a nearly 2,000-mile journey back to Florida after at least 299 passengers and 22 crew members onboard came down with a stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is still investigating the cause of the illness. Some reports suggest it is gastroenteritis.
The ship ended its journey nearly a week early "out of an abundance of caution" and the passengers are being treated by the onboard medical team, a spokesperson for Princess Cruises told FOX Business on Tuesday. Caribbean Princess was denied entry to ports in Barbados and Trindad and Tobago, according to the latter's Ministry of Health.
"This is a highly unusual development and we share the disappointment of our guests," a Princess Cruises spokesperson said. "However, the health and safety of our guests and crew is our top priority, and in working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was decided out of an abundance of caution, in this specific instance, to discontinue the cruise. "
The company confirmed that there are no cases of coronavirus identified among guests or crew. However, the news comes as the new viral illness is being watched with a wary eye around the globe. The viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 43,000 people globally with 13 cases reported in the United States. On Monday, China reported a rise in new cases, dimming optimism that the near-quarantine of some 60 million people and other disease-control measures might be working.
Meanwhile, the director-general of the World Health Organization said that the agency is still unable to predict where the outbreak is heading but that he believes there is still an opportunity to contain it.
The ship, with more than 4,000 guests and crew, is slated to arrive back in Florida on Thursday.
When the ship docks in Fort Lauderdale, the company will give guests a 50 percent refund on their voyage and a future cruise credit card valued at 50 percent of their cruise.
Caribbean Princess is scheduled to make another trip to the Caribbean on Feb. 16.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.