Royal Caribbean delays launch of new cruise ship after 8 test positive for COVID-19

Zarrin Ahmed
Observers look toward Royal Caribbean ship Odyssey of the Seas off the coast at Majorca Bay in Mallorca, Spain, on May 24. Photo by Atienza/EPA-EFE
Observers look toward Royal Caribbean ship Odyssey of the Seas off the coast at Majorca Bay in Mallorca, Spain, on May 24. Photo by Atienza/EPA-EFE

June 16 (UPI) -- The inaugural sail of Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship has been delayed after eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19.

Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean, said Tuesday the cruise would not depart on schedule.


"Out of an abundance of caution we are postponing Odyssey's inaugural sail from July 3 to July 31," he wrote in a Facebook post. "A simulation cruise, originally scheduled for late June, will also be rescheduled."

Bayley said all 1,400 crew members received their first coronavirus vaccine dose when they arrived in Florida last week and would be fully vaccinated by this weekend.

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"The positive cases were identified after the vaccination was given and before they were fully effective," he wrote. "To protect the remaining crew and prevent any further cases, we will have all crew quarantined for 14 days and continue with our routine testing."

All eight crew members are in quarantine and under medical surveillance.

The announcement came less than a week after two passengers tested positive on another ship owned by Royal Caribbean Group. They showed no symptoms and were isolated. All passengers are required to show a negative COVID-19 test and proof of vaccination within 72 hours of departure.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says infections in fully vaccinated people are rare. Of 130 million vaccinated people in the United States, only about 10,000 have so far tested positive, it said.

The CDC authorized cruise companies to resume operations from U.S. ports last month. Ships have been barred from sailing out of U.S. ports since March 2020, when multiple cruise liners were found to have a number of passengers and crew with the virus.

The first ship to leave a U.S. port is scheduled for later this month, when a Celebrity Cruises liner will depart Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the Caribbean.

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National Institutes of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci (C) speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar (L) announced that the United States is declaring the virus a public health emergency and issued a federal quarantine order of 14 days for 195 Americans. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

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