Buncombe County couple's cruise cut short after many on ship get sick

Tammy and Doug Henson are still smiling, even though the Royal Caribbean cruise ship they're on made national news after 277 passengers and crew members became sick. (Photo credit: Doug and Tammy Henson)

A Buncombe County couple is among those on a Royal Caribbean cruise that's being cut short because of an illness outbreak.

Tammy and Doug Henson are still smiling in their vacation photos, even though the Royal Caribbean cruise ship they're on has made national news.

Some 277 passengers and crew members are sick, and the ship is now en route back to Florida a day earlier than planned.

So far, the Hensons are healthy.

"We've just been careful about going into some of the shows that have been super crowded," Tammy said. "And they have cleaned this boat from top to bottom. Everywhere you turn around, someone's squirting hand sanitizer in every room you go in."

"Doesn't bother me," Doug said.

Officials with Royal Caribbean said they are waiting for lab results to determine if the cases are norovirus, the most common cause of such illnesses on cruise ships. The Oasis of the Seas holds 8,000 passengers, and the cruise line said about three percent became sick.

They embarked on what was supposed to be a seven-night journey on Sunday, with stops in Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico.

"They're taking us home early," Tammy said. "Normally, we wouldn't have docked in Florida until Sunday morning, but they're taking us a day early because of it."

The Hensons said that with a few precautions, many on the ship are still able to have a good time on the vessel.

"They've really got it under control. I'm really impressed with the way they're handling it," Tammy said. "We just pretty much wash our hands constantly and use hand sanitizer constantly. Other than that, we just hope and pray for the best."

Royal Caribbean's offered them a 100-percent refund.

Despite the health crisis on the trip, the Hensons said this won't be their last.

"Oh, absolutely not, we love cruising!" Tammy said. "We'll cruise again this year, probably."

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