Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas won’t dock at the island nations of Aruba and Curacao this week following an onboard COVID-19 outbreak involving some 55 passengers and crew members, the firm said.
All passengers aged 12 and older and crew members have to show proof they’ve been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to board the ship, according to the cruise line’s policy.
“The decision was made together with the islands out of an abundance of caution due to the current trend of COVID-19 cases in the destinations’ communities as well as crew and guests testing positive on board,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement Thursday to news outlets.
The cruise was slated to make stops in Aruba and Curacao. Now, the ship will stay at sea until its regular scheduled return on Dec. 26.
At least “55 crew members and guests, representing 1.1 percent of the onboard community,” tested positive, Royal Caribbean added in its statement. “The cruise sailed with 95 percent of the onboard community fully vaccinated.”
“Each guest’s regimen must include at least two doses of vaccine unless the guest received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” according to Royal Caribbean’s website. “This guidance is per the U.S. CDC, and no exceptions will be made, even if the guest’s resident country has authorized a single-shot regimen for a two dose vaccine.”
There are about 5,000 passengers and crew on board the vessel, said Royal Caribbean. Everyone who tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, is experiencing mild or asymptomatic symptoms, according to the company.
The Royal Caribbean vessel left Port Everglades, Florida, on Saturday for an eight-night Caribbean trip. It will return to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“We continue to monitor their health. Close contacts were also identified and placed in quarantine to be monitored for 24 hours prior to testing,” Royal Caribbean’s statement added.
It’s not clear if the Omicron variant triggered the outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that as of last week, Omicron makes up 73 percent of all COVID-19 cases, while recent studies have signaled that the new strain causes milder symptoms and has resulted in far fewer hospitalizations.
A CDC spokesperson told Fox Business on Thursday that the agency is aware of the outbreak, adding there have been no hospitalizations, evacuations, deaths, or ventilator usage on the ship.
Aside from the Odyssey of the Seas, about 50 passengers aboard Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas contracted COVID-19 earlier this month, said the company. The ship departed on Dec. 11.
Weeks before that, Earlier in December, COVID-19 cases were reported on a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship, according to the Lousiana Department of Health. The Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship had left New Orleans on Nov. 28, making stops in Mexico, Honduras, and Belize.
Norwegian Cruise Lines confirmed at the time that it requires everyone on board to be fully vaccinated.