Royal Caribbean says it is pushing back the debut of its newest ship — Odyssey of the Seas — after eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19.
The ship was scheduled to sail from Fort Lauderdale beginning on July 3, along with a simulated test cruise before the inaugural sailing. Both are now pushed back, with the first available cruise showing as August 14 on Royal Caribbean’s website.
“During routine testing, eight crew members received a positive test result for COVID-19,” said Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley. “The eight crew members, six of whom are asymptomatic and two with mild symptoms, were quarantined and are being closely monitored by our medical team.”
Notably, the crew members were vaccinated in early June, but won’t be considered fully vaccinated until later this month.
“All 1,400 crew onboard Odyssey of the Seas were vaccinated on June 4th and will be considered fully vaccinated on June 18.” Bayley wrote in a Facebook post announcing the news. “The positive cases were identified after the vaccination was given and before they were fully effective.”
As for now, Bayley says that all crew will quarantine for 14 days and continue to be tested.
Odyssey of the Seas to Sail With “Mix” of Passengers
Odyssey of the Seas is the cruise line’s newest ship and was originally scheduled to begin sailing from Israel with fully-vaccinated cruises. However, conflict in that region forced the cruise line to change its plans.
Now the ship is slated to sail from Fort Lauderdale, where a mix of both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests will be allowed to sail. While the cruise line requires vaccines for all passengers that are of eligible age on sailings from U.S. ports, the cruise line can’t require proof of the shot when sailing from Florida.
Royal Caribbean has said that passengers who are not vaccinated or refuse to show proof will have to adhere to different protocols on the ship, as well as pay for testing out of pocket in order to cruise.
The line also say that “all guests are strongly recommended” to have the shot and expects that 90% of passengers will be fully vaccinated.
This news of more positive cases comes as Royal Caribbean’s sister line Celebrity Cruises had two passengers test positive on a fully-vaccinated sailing in the Caribbean. In that case, the passengers were said to be asymptomatic and no further spread was reported.
Celebrity also plans its first U.S. cruise departure on June 26. Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas is that line’s first U.S. cruise scheduled, sailing from Miami on July 2. In addition, the cruise line has several more ships coming back online from the United States this summer.