Royal Caribbean cruise postponed after eight crew members test positive for COVID

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One of the first cruises scheduled to sail from the United States has been postponed after eight crew members tested positive for the coronavirus during routine testing.

Royal Caribbean International’s Odyssey of the Seas, which was scheduled to sail to the Caribbean on July 3 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will now start its first voyage on July 31.

“Two steps forward and one step back!” Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday night. He said the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution.”

One of the first cruises scheduled to sail from the United States has been postponed after eight crew members tested positive.Credit:

It’s the latest reminder of the difficulty of keeping the virus off cruise ships, which have not carried passengers from US shores since March 2020. Earlier this month, two passengers on a Celebrity cruise that left St Maarten tested positive during a Caribbean sailing, despite a requirement that everyone over 16 be fully vaccinated. Also this month, two people on an MSC cruise in the Mediterranean tested positive during a routine test; vaccinations were not required for that voyage.

All 1,400 crew members on Odyssey of the Seas got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on June 4, according to the cruise line. Because the vaccine only requires one dose, they would have been considered fully vaccinated after two weeks had passed. But the crew members in question tested positive on June 10. Two have mild symptoms, and the rest are asymptomatic.

Now, all crew are being quarantined for 14 days “to protect the remaining crew and prevent any further cases,” with routine testing continuing, Bayley wrote.

The Miami-based cruise line announced plans earlier this month for Odyssey of the Seas, its newest ship, to start Caribbean cruises on July 3. It would have been the second Royal Caribbean ship to sail from the United States, following Freedom of the Seas on July 2.

A test cruise on Odyssey, which is required by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention if fewer than 95% of passengers will be vaccinated, had been scheduled for late June but has also been postponed.

“Guests and travel partners will be notified and given several options to consider,” the company said in a statement. “While disappointing, this is the right decision for the health and wellbeing of our crew and guests.”

Royal Caribbean is requiring passengers older than 16 to be fully vaccinated on cruises from all ports in the United States except those in Florida, where a state law says companies are not allowed to require proof of vaccination.

The Washington Post

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