TODAY   |  January 28, 2014

Spread of illness aboard cruise ship slows

A virus that made hundreds of passengers sick aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise has slowed, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is on board. Experts believe it could be the Norovirus. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>>> meanwhile, good news this morning on that cruise ship with hundreds of people sick onboard. tamron 's in for natalie with that.

>> the journey's not over, but there are new developments for those passengers aboard the royal caribbean cruise ship " explorer of the seas ." appears the spread of that virus making so many people sick has slowed. nbc's kerry sanders at the port of miami this morning with the very latest. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, tamron . royal caribbean cruise line which is based here in miami is working with the centers for disease control to stop the spread of this contagious virus aboard the cruise ship explorer of the seas . so far, 645 people on board have reported symptoms, that's 19 new cases in the last 24 hours . the cruise ship " explorer of the seas " is now scheduled to dock back in new jersey on wednesday. as these passenger snapshots show, despite the best efforts to sanitize the ship, the virus remains.

>> everywhere you go, you see people cleaning, it's like unbelievable. you go to sit down on a chair and it's sticky because germicide and sanitizer still on it.

>> reporter: more than 600 passengers and crew members have suffered the symptoms. everything i touch goes into a biohazard bag. the centers for disease control has a team onboard and the common norovirus is suspected. for passengers, this has meant ruined vacations. for royal caribbean , bad publicity. still, the cruise line reported a $7 million fourth quarter profit monday. royal caribbean 's ceo on cnbc.

>> when these things do happen, we react quickly and aggressively and we compensate very fairly. so we're really not expecting this to have a big impact .

>> reporter: royal caribbean has offered passengers on board, whether they got sick or not, half of their money back for this cruise. plus, those who got sick will get credit to apply to a future cruise for the days they were confined to their cabin. and because they're getting back to port early in new jersey where it's cold, they're not only going to pay for the change fees on those airline tickets but also for hotel rooms because so many flights are being canceled, they may have to stay a couple extra nights in a hotel room before they finally get home. tamron ?

>> thank you.