Cruise ship returns to Texas with 170 sick aboard

The new Caribbean Princess departs on its maiden voyage from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in this April 3, 2004 file photo. Federal health officials are investigating after an outbreak of illness has caused Caribbean Princess cruise ship to ends its trip early and returned to port in Houston late Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 more than a day ahead of schedule after more than 170 passengers and crew members aboard became sick. (AP Photo/Princess Cruises, Andy Newman, File)

More than 170 passengers and crew members have fallen sick aboard a cruise ship, prompting it to return two days early to a Houston-area port.

The Caribbean Princess returned to the Bayport Cruise Terminal in Pasadena late Thursday. Princess Cruises, which owns the ship, says the highly contagious norovirus spread quickly among passengers, forcing a premature end to their voyage.

The company says in a statement that Centers for Disease Control officials will board the ship Friday to ensure thorough sanitation.

The Caribbean Princess left the Pasadena port Jan. 25 bound for the Caribbean with more than 4,200 people aboard. It had been scheduled to return Saturday.

Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas returned to New Jersey on Wednesday after nearly 700 aboard fell sick with the same gastrointestinal illness.

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