Despite established stringent COVID-19 measures meant to keep ocean cruises free of the COVID-19 infection, Royal Caribbean reportedly observes that at least about 48 on one of its ships docked in Miami have tested positive. The Symphony of the Seas, which is the largest cruise ship in the world, had over 6,000 passengers and crew members on board on a week-long trip on the Caribbean.
During this period, a guest tested positive for COVID-19, prompting immediate contact tracing, per Royal Caribbean. Cruise vessels were touted to be one of the “safest” vacations in summer 2021 when the industry rebooted in the US with non-negotiable COVID-19 protocols, after a prolonged shutdown.
In a statement, Royal Caribbean has reportedly mentioned that after the guest’s test result came positive, subsequent cases had also been detected via contact tracing. About 95% of those who were on the cruise ship were completely vaccinated. Of individuals who have since tested positive, 98% have been fully vaccinated. The number amounted to 0.78% of the population on board.
It is still unknown if the cases are that of the Omicron variant that is rapidly spreading worldwide, was responsible for the detected cases. Royal Caribbean rules necessitate that travelers aged 12 and above have to be completely vaccinated, and tested negative before the ship departs. The cruise line “strongly recommends” taking a booster shot before sailing, but until now, this has not been a mandatory practice.
Crew members have to be completely vaccinated and need to test at least once each week. Non-vaccinated children on the Symphony of the Seas had also shown a negative report and were asked to test negative at the terminal before the departure.
Royal Caribbean has also spoken about additional safety measures it has put in place, such as advanced cleaning. On cruises that are US-based, masks have to be used in public areas indoors. The policy was updated to ensure that the mask-wearing applies for fully vaccinated individuals too.
The association has said that its member cruise lines will go on following a “proactive approach” for responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as the situation keeps developing.
In December, a spate of COVID-19 cases had been reported on Breakaway, a Norway-based Cruise vessel, which had set sail from New Orleans.
The cruise line has mentioned that it ha successfully disembarked six positive members earlier in the cruise, while the others who tested positive disembarked on 18 December, as the voyage ended.