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Royal Caribbean CEO: 'We screen our passengers best we can'

The CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. defended his company's business practices Monday after 620 people traveling on the company's Explorer of the Seas cruise liner fell ill over the weekend with symptoms that included vomiting and diarrhea.

"We screen our passengers as best we can," Richard Fain told CNBC in an interview.

“It’s a very unfortunate incident," Fain added. "Our people responded quickly and aggressively.” He said affected passengers onboard the Explorer of the Seas, which cut short its 10-day voyage by two days to deal with the incident, would receive compensation. 

The cruise line said its doctors reported symptoms were consistent with norovirus.

Fain said that the recent temperature drop in the Northeast may have been a factor in the outbreak. "They're having a lot of cold up in the north," he said.

The news comes the same day as Royal Caribbean posted fourth-quarter profits of $7 million, compared to a loss at the same time last year of $393 million. The company's shares were up almost 1 percent in afternoon trade after gaining about 4 percent earlier in the day.

Future bookings wouldn't be affected, said Fain. "Most people understand just how common a thing this is," he said.

Fain stood on the company's record in response to incidents like these. “We do an amazing job of helping guests when they do get sick and then cleaning after," he said.

Contact Ben Popken via, @bpopken, or