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(NEW YORK) — A Royal Caribbean cruise ship is heading back to the U.S. two days early after more than 600 people on board came down with gastrointestinal symptoms.

The Explorer of the Seas left New Jersey for the Caribbean last Tuesday but had to skip its planned stop to Haiti after the first cases of illness were reported less than 24 hours into its voyage.  The cruise liner then headed for Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, where officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boarded the ship.

CDC spokeswoman Bernadette Burden confirmed to ABC News on Monday that 577 passengers and 49 crew members had fallen ill.  Royal Caribbean says the symptoms appear to be consistent with that of norovirus.

The Explorer of the Seas is already making its way back to New Jersey.  Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Janet Diaz told ABC News the ship left St. Thomas Sunday evening around 4 p.m. ET.

All passengers are still on board the ship and the CDC team plans to remain on the cruise liner until it docks in New Jersey later this week.

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