Update: Since this story was originally published, seven more cases were found aboard Norwegian Breakaway. This brings the total to 17 cases (from the previous 10). In addition, one of those 17 cases is suspected to be of the Omicron variant. The original story is below.
Norwegian Breakaway, which currently homeports in New Orleans, has 10 COVID-19 cases among those onboard according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
The health department says the cases are among both passengers and crew. Breakaway left New Orleans on November 28 on a 7-day cruise with scheduled stops in Cozumel, Roatan, Harvest Caye (NCL’s private island), and Costa Maya, before returning home.
There’s no word on exactly when the cases were discovered. The Department of Health says that the ship “has been adhering to appropriate quarantine and isolation protocols as new cases and exposures have been identified aboard this vessel.” Every person on board will also be tested before disembarking.
Whenever cases are found on a ship, protocols dictate that contact tracing be performed to discover and test potential close contacts.
Norwegian Breakaway is said to have 3,200 people on the ship. The 10 cases therefore represent about 0.3% of people onboard. Notably, Norwegian Breakaway has had “yellow” designation on the CDC’s Cruise Ship Color Status page since mid-November.
This status is given when more than 0.1% of passengers test positive or there is at least one case among crew members within the past seven days. (Alternatively, “yellow” is also earned if the ship fails to submit a daily status report on time.)
Currently, eight out of eleven NCL ships tracked by the CDC have “green” status. Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Sky, and Pride of America show a “non-green” status.
Norwegian Cruise Line currently institutes some of the most rigorous vaccination and testing protocols of any cruise line. It requires vaccinations for all passengers and crew. This includes children, who are not allowed to sail unless they’ve had the vaccination.
In addition, all guests are required to take a virus test at the terminal prior to boarding. Other protocols include lower guest capacity, increased sanitation, and upgraded air filtration.
Because of the 100% vaccination requirement, NCL’s website currently says guests can cruise mask free and with no social distancing required.
Throughout this health crisis there have no doubt been virus cases found on cruise ships. Overall, however, they seem to be relatively contained thanks to testing, vaccine requirements, and protocols for what happens if there are cases found. With 10 cases found here, that represents less than one-half of one percent of those on the ship.
From June 26 to October 21, the CDC said 1,359 cases were reported across the dozens of cruise ships that it tracks daily. That comes out to about 12 cases per day among tens of thousands of passengers and crew.
There is no word on the severity of cases among those on Breakaway.