Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Returns With 600 Sick Passengers: 5 Recent Cruises You'll Be Grateful You Missed

Turns out modern-day cruises aren't for the faint-hearted. Or should we say the weak-stomached? As the latest ill-fated cruise liner, the Royal Caribbean, docks in New Jersey two days early with a record-breaking number of sick passengers, we can't help but wonder: Who on earth is still signing up for these "vacations?"

In 2013 there were seven outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships, sickening a total of 1,238 people. All those passengers packed together like sardines in a tin makes it awfully easy for germs to spread through the ranks like wildfire.

Here are five of the most stomach-churning cruises we're glad we missed out on...

Royal Caribbean's 'Explorer of the Seas'

This week, Royal Caribbean’s luxury liner, which can carry more than 3,000 passengers, was forced to cut short its 10-day voyage after 630 passengers and 54 crew-members fell sick. According to the CDC, this breaks the record for highest number of reported sicknesses aboard a liner in the past 20 years. Way to go.

Royal Caribbean has offered passengers a 50 percent refund and 50 percent credit for a future cruise, just in case they feel like chancing their luck a second time.

Health investigators haven’t got the lab results back yet, but it looks an awful lot like norovirus.

Carnival Dream

Carnival officials were quick to play down the Dream’s troubles, coming as they did hot on the heels of the infamous Triumph “poop cruise” disaster (more on that in a minute…), but some passengers told a different tale.

The liner experienced technical malfunctions while at dock on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten in March last year. While some passengers said they were only mildly inconvenienced by a brief power outage, others described being trapped on the ship in highly unsanitary conditions.

Carnival Triumph

Best known as the “poop cruise,” the Carnival Triumph’s woes began with an engine room fire which ultimately left the liner stranded off the coast of Mexico in February 2013 with limited power.

Traumatized passengers described low food supplies, sweltering indoor temperatures and biohazard bags filled with human waste piling up on the decks.

Carnival Splendor

Aaand it’s a hat-trick for Carnival. In fact, this story somewhat foreshadows the previous incident: An engine room fire on the Carnival Splendor caused the liner to lose power 200 miles off the coast of San Diego in 2010.

The 4,500 passengers were left with no hot water or air conditioning, but fortunately they were spared the toilet malfunctions by an auxiliary power supply.

Celebrity Mercury

The Celebrity Mercury was struck by a norovirus outbreak during its 11-day cruise from Charleston, S.C. in 2010.

More than 400 of the 2,600 passengers and crew suffered gastrointestinal problems, but fortunately these weren’t compounded by technical malfunctions. In fact, several travelers voiced satisfaction with the way the crew handled the issue.

Image: Wikimedia Commons