17 People Tested Positive for COVID-19 on a Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Headed to New Orleans
More than a dozen vaccinated people on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship docking in New Orleans have tested positive for COVID-19, including at least one suspected to have contracted the new omicron variant, according to the cruise line and the Louisiana Department of Health.
The Norwegian Breakaway ship first left New Orleans on Nov. 28 and stopped in Belize, Honduras, and Mexico, according to the health department. At least 17 passengers and crew have since tested positive for COVID-19, including a South African crew member who Norwegian Cruise Line said is "suspected" to be infected with the omicron variant. All of the positive cases onboard the ship were asymptotic NCL told Travel + Leisure in a statement. When it was deemed safe to do so, all passengers traveled by personal vehicle to their personal residence or self-isolated in accommodations provided by the cruise line.
In total, more than 3,200 people were on board, the health department noted.
"On the Nov. 28, 2021 Norwegian Breakaway voyage sailing roundtrip from New Orleans, LA, we identified a handful of COVID-19 asymptomatic cases among guests and crew. One of those cases, which was a South African crew member who was in isolation for the entirety of the cruise, is suspected to have the COVID-19 omicron variant," a representative for the cruise line told Travel + Leisure in an email, adding the company offered guests on its Dec. 5 sailing the chance to cancel without a penalty "in an abundance of caution and in compliance with CDC requirements."
Travelers who chose to board anyway are required to wear masks indoors except when actively eating or drinking and will be tested twice during the cruise, the representative noted.
Norwegian requires all passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated to sail, a policy the company has extended "indefinitely." The company first adopted the mandate in April before initially extending it through the end of the year, and has fought to defend it in court.
"As always, the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is our highest priority," the cruise line told T+L. "Since the relaunch of our fleet, we have required 100% of guests and crew to be fully vaccinated per our comprehensive and stringent health and safety protocols. We will never compromise on health and safety and we will of course, continue to take all appropriate action to ensure everyone's well-being and to protect public health."
The omicron variant was first discovered in southern Africa and has spread around the world. As a result, several countries have imposed stricter travel restrictions, including the United States, which will now require all international travelers, including U.S. citizens, to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of their flight, regardless of their vaccination status.
The World Health Organization has also urged at-risk groups not to travel to areas with community transmission.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.