Call it a sign that while we all may hope to be done with COVID, it’s not done with us.
Celebrity says that two passengers on Celebrity Millennium — which departed St. Maarten on June 5 — have tested positive for the virus. The report says that the two people shared a cabin aboard the ship and were found to be positive during required tests toward the end of the cruise.
I was just informed that two passengers in same cabin aboard our #cruise ship #CelebrityMillennium have tested positive for COVID-19. Passengers have been isolated and put in special quarantine cabin. NOT a big deal!
— Stewart Chiron (@CruiseGuy) June 10, 2021
It’s important to note that the two cases represent a small portion of the passengers on the ship, which is said to be slightly less than 600 people. Still, any cases on the vessel are sure to draw attention given that the cruise set sail with all crew and passengers vaccinated.
In a statement, the cruise line said the following:
Today, two guests sharing a stateroom onboard Celebrity Millennium tested positive for COVID-19 while conducting the required end-of-cruise testing. The individuals are asymptomatic and currently in isolation and being monitored by our medical team. We are conducting contact tracing, expediting testing for all close contacts and closely monitoring the situation.
Celebrity Millennium is sailing with fully vaccinated crew and guests and following comprehensive protocols that align with our destination partners and exceed CDC guidelines to protect the health and safety of our guests. All guests on Celebrity Millennium were required to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before sailing from St. Maarten this past Saturday. This situation demonstrates that our rigorous health and safety protocols work to protect our crew, guests and the communities we visit.
Celebrity Millennium is currently sailing seven-night Caribbean cruises from St. Maarten before repositioning to Seattle in late July. The itinerary includes stops in Aruba, Barbados and Curacao.
The ship is sailing and scheduled to arrive back in St. Maarten on Saturday morning, according to CruiseMapper.com.
Why These Two Cases (Out of Hundreds of Millions) Are Newsworthy
Given there have been nearly 200 million positive cases worldwide, two asymptomatic cases is a small number. That said, these cases are notable as several lines have announced they plan to sail vaccinated sailings with at least 95% of passengers having the shot.
The positive tests on this first sailing for the Celebrity Millennium show that even in these circumstances, the virus is able to find its way on the ship. And while the vaccines have high efficacy, they do not prevent the virus 100%. In this case the passengers were also tested within 72 hours of boarding.
Like it or not, cruise ships are linked with the virus due to its impact on cruising in the early days of the pandemic. Even a small number of cases will prove newsworthy as cruises return in greater and greater numbers.
Furthermore, the situation also adds fuel to the recent battles between the industry, CDC, and state governments over whether or not vaccines can be required for cruise passengers. While cruise lines have largely pushed to sail vaccinated cruises at first, states like Florida ban any sort of proof of vaccination.
Royal Caribbean International, for instance, says that “guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated” but will not require the shot on its upcoming trips from Florida.
Given that at least a couple of cases are already found on one of the first vaccinated cruises back, it does raise questions about sailing with a mix of passengers who have and have not had the shot.
The cruise industry says that roughly 400,000 passengers have sailed since the cruise industry returned to sailing in limited capacity, with fewer than 50 cases found as of March. These figures are before vaccines were widely available or required on cruises.
Another Celebrity ship — Celebrity Edge — is scheduled to be the first cruise to return to sailing from the United States. It plans to sail with vaccinated passengers starting June 26.