Mystery illness strikes Riviera Beach man after cruise

No confirmed link to two norovirus outbreaks

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - It has been anything but smooth sailing for some South Florida cruise passengers over the last week. 

Joe Nasuti of Riviera Beach has been on 25 cruises in his life -- six of them in the last year. But he said none of them were quite like the one he was on last week.

Nasuti was on a six-day cruise on board the Carnival Freedom out of Fort Lauderdale. While his six-person party had a great time, he said it was not until after they got back that things got ugly. 

"You couldn't eat anything and you have constant diarrhea," said Nasuti. "I actually lost eight pounds in four days." 

It is not clear yet what illness hit Nasuti and his cruise-mates, or whether they contracted it aboard their Carnival ship or somewhere else. 

"It comes on quick and your best friend is in your bathroom for every half hour to hour," he said.

On Thursday morning, a different ship, the Crown Princess, returned to Port Everglades two days early.  This was the second outbreak of the norovirus on this ship in two weeks. 

About 175 people reported illness on the latest voyage, and 400 reported sickness on the earlier cruise, said authorities. 

The vessel is undergoing a two-day deep cleaning. Carnival Cruise Lines has not confirmed any norovirus cases on any ship other than the Crown Princess.

Dr. Donald Montgomery of Wellington Regional Medical Center said cruise ships can be a common place for viruses to spread. 

"Any surface or person to person transmission is so easily done," he said. "Once the gastroenteritis sets in, you're in for a ride for three to five days." 

Dr. Montgomery said it is possible for passengers to contract a virus on board, but they may not see symptoms for days. Doctors say hand washing and using hand sanitizer is key to prevent contracting norovirus.  

Despite what he says happened after his trip, Nasuti said he will cruise again. 

"It's just a beautiful thing to be on. Dollar-wise, you can't beat the value," he said.

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