Royal Caribbean International is all set to postpone one of the most highly anticipated first sailings from the US for about a month as eight crew members have recently tested positive for COVID-19.
The brand new Odyssey of the Seas was to set sail on July 3 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida but has been postponed till July 31. On Tuesday, Michael Bayley, the Royal Caribbean International’s CEO, said that this decision had been made owing to “an abundance of caution.”
He also added that the company is rescheduling its simulation cruise that had earlier been scheduled for the end of June. He considered the decision to be disappointing, but the most appropriate decision for the well-being of crew and guests.
Bayley said all 1,400 crew members aboard the Odyssey of the Seas were vaccinated on June 4. However, two weeks had not gone by for their bodies to start building protection against the deadly virus.
Six of the crew members who had previously tested positive were asymptomatic while the other two are mildly sick. The company has ensured that all crew members quarantine for 14 days and continue routine testing.
Lyan Sierra-Caro, the company spokeswoman, said that the trial voyage with volunteer passengers originally planned later this month would help the cruise line satisfy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandates before resuming planned trips with their paying guests. Sierra-Caro said that the CDC had not approved the trial run so far.
The debut of the Odyssey of the Seas was much anticipated as cruise lines attempted a comeback after over 15 months of not sailing from the US due to the ongoing pandemic. Royal Caribbean International has stated that all passengers are “strongly recommended” to take the Covid-19 vaccine. It has also mentioned that unvaccinated passengers must compulsorily test for the virus and continue to follow other safety measures.
Celebrity Edge, part of the same Royal Caribbean Group, is set to become the first post-pandemic ship to start sailing from the US on June 26 with all ticketed passengers.
A Celebrity Cruises’ spokeswoman told The Associated Press that Celebrity Edge is able to sail without a test run as it has been strictly following CDC guidelines permitting ships with about 98% vaccinated crew and almost 95% vaccinated guests to skip that step.
A new Florida law has banned businesses from mandating passengers to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination. Gov. Ron DeSantis, however, said the legislation had been designed to preserve medical privacy and individual freedom.
Lomax said that the state law stipulates that businesses may not ask customers to share documents, but they can ask guests if they would be comfortable in sharing the vaccination status.