Royal Caribbean’s Launch Of Its New Megaship Just Got Sidelined By COVID Cases : Coronavirus Updates : NPR

Royal Caribbean was supposed to start the Odyssey of The Seas on its first cruise with passengers in early July. However, positive COVID-19 tests among the crew have forced a four-week delay in travel.

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Royal Caribbean was supposed to start the Odyssey of The Seas on its first cruise with passengers in early July. However, positive COVID-19 tests among the crew have forced a four-week delay in travel.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Royal Caribbean’s new mega-ship, Odyssey of the Seas, should welcome the company’s return this summer as usual. But the ship’s launch is now delayed after eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19. His first planned trips have now been canceled.

The Odyssey of the Seas was scheduled to sail with paying passengers for the first time on July 3 – more than a year after the cruise industry was hampered by the pandemic. The first trip is now delayed by four weeks until July 31st. By then, the summer will be almost half over.

“This is disappointing, but the right decision for the health and well-being of our crew and our guests,” said Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley said when he announced the delay.

The shipping company says it is contacting customers to discuss ticket refunds and rebooking their trips.

All 1,400 crew members on board the ship are now being quarantined. All of the crew were vaccinated on June 4, the same day their ship arrived in Port Canaveral, Florida, Bayley said. The positive cases occurred before their vaccinations could be considered fully effective.

Crew members on the Odyssey of the Seas were tested on the day they arrived in Florida. A week later, a second round of testing gave positive results. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires regular testing in the conditional sailing regime that has allowed the U.S. cruise industry to resume operations.

The cruise company says its infected crew members are being monitored by medical personnel. Six of them are asymptomatic and two have mild symptoms, Bayley said.

Cruise ships were banned from operating US ports last March when the CDC issued a No sailing order because of the pandemic. Cruises have been linked to several early COVID-19 outbreaks in the United States, and outbreaks of cases on ships have been blamed at least 41 deaths.

The first commercial cruise to depart from a US port in more than a year is probably in 10 dayswhen a Celebrity Cruises ship departs from Fort Lauderdale for a week-long tour of the Caribbean.

Under the CDC’s new guidelines, cruise ships can operate in near-normal conditions when a large proportion of passengers and crew are fully vaccinated. Guests who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus can, for example, even refill their own plates at the buffet.

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