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Nearly 500 people are sick on the cruise Royal Caribbean

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By Minyvonne Burke

The number of people affected by a gastrointestinal illness on a Royal Caribbean International cruise has increased to almost 500, a company spokeswoman said on Friday.

The 475-person increase comes a day after the company said 277 passengers at the Oasis of the Seas had initially become ill.

Travelers on the cruise, which according to the Royal Caribbean website is a 1,187-foot-long ship and was voted the best cruise of 2014 by Travel Weekly readers, began to feel sick after the ship left Port. Canaveral in Brevard County, Florida, on Sunday.

The cruise was scheduled to sail through the Caribbean before returning to Florida on Sunday. The Oasis of the Seas will return to Puerto Cañaveral on Saturday. All passengers on the ship will receive a refund due to the outbreak.

Passenger Shawn Popeleski told the Orlando Sentinel that they were told through a boat-level announcement on Friday that the outbreak is "more likely" related to norovirus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus is a type of gastrointestinal disease and is "very contagious." You can get infected people and touch contaminated surfaces or eating or drinking contaminated food and water.

Symptoms include stomach pains, nausea and diarrhea, according to the CDC. Although highly transmissible, the disease is "relatively rare on cruise ships," says the CDC.

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