Royal Caribbean Pushes Back Sailings After Crew Members Test Positive for COVID-19
Royal Caribbean was forced to postpone some July sailings and push back its June volunteer test cruise after eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19, the company's president and CEO announced in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening.
The positive cases were discovered during routine testing of crew onboard the brand-new Odyssey of the Seas, wrote Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean's president and CEO. Of the eight people who tested positive, six were asymptomatic and two had mild symptoms.
As a result of the positive tests, Royal Caribbean has pushed back its inaugural Odyssey of the Seas sailing from July 3 to July 31 out of Fort Lauderdale. Additionally, Bayley said the June test cruise would be rescheduled.
A spokesperson for the cruise line told Travel + Leisure a new date for the test sailing has not been set yet.
The company still plans to sail several other cruises out of international and U.S. ports in June and July.
The positive tests were discovered after the ship's 1,400 crew were vaccinated on June 4, but not before they will be considered fully vaccinated on June 18. All crew are now quarantined for 14 days "to protect the remaining crew and prevent any further cases."
The cruise line has made vaccines optional for guests on most sailings, but requires them for crew.
"Two steps forward and one step back!" Bayley said, adding, "Guests and travel partners will be notified and given several options to consider. While disappointing, this is the right decision for the health and well-being of our crew and guests."
Last month, Royal Caribbean became the first U.S. cruise line to be approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to begin test sailings ahead of a summer restart.
The CDC requires cruise lines to sail "simulated voyages" with volunteer passengers before resuming normal operations out of the United States to test COVID-19-related protocols. The agency has made an exception for any cruise that sails with 98% of crew and 95% of passengers fully vaccinated.
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.