Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas is headed back to its home port one day earlier in Florida because of gastrointestinal illness onboard, the cruise line said Thursday.
The ship, which holds more than 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew members, is returning to Port Canaveral in Central Florida on Saturday because of the sickness of 277 people, Royal Caribbean spokesman Owen Torres told the Orlando Sentinel.
"We think the right thing to do is to get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health," Royal Caribbean said in the statement. "Returning on Saturday also gives us more time to completely clean and sanitize the ship before her next sailing."
Norovirus, which is highly contagious, causes diarrhea and vomiting that typically lasts for one to three days. Though sometimes called the "stomach flu," it is unrelated to influenza. Traditionally, it is spread through contaminated food, surfaces and through contact with sick people.
All passengers will get full refunds for their cruise fare.
"Our guests sail with us to have great vacations, and we are sorry this cruise fell short," the line said in a statement obtained by USA Today.
The Oasis of the Seas is ending a call planned for Friday in Cozumel, Mexico. The seven-night scheduled cruise includes Labadee, Haiti, Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. But because of the outbreak, passengers were not allowed disembark in Jamaica on Tuesday.
"In an abundance of caution, we have implemented enhanced sanitizing procedures on board," Royal Caribbean wrote in a letter to guests. "You will likely see some of these activities throughout our sailing, as we are taking all steps necessary to maintain our high health standards."
Unveiled in 2009, Oasis of the Sea at one time was the world's biggest cruise ship. Three other sister vessels are now the largest, Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.