Jun 16, 2021 - Health

Royal Caribbean delays cruise launch after 8 positive COVID cases

A cruise ship in the water at the dock.
Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Ovation of the Seas, berthed in Sydney Harbour. Photo: James D. Morgan/via Getty Images.

Royal Caribbean International will postpone its first scheduled trip from the United States in more than a year following eight new positive COVID-19 cases among crew members, CEO Michael Bayley announced.

Why it matters: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a No Sail Order in March 2020 amid the spread of the coronavirus. "The debut of the Odyssey of the Seas was highly anticipated as cruise lines attempt a comeback after more than 15 months of not sailing from the U.S. because of the pandemic," AP writes.

The big picture: Royal Caribbean was set to return to sea with its new megaship, Odyssey of the Seas.

  • The megaship was expected to sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 3, but has now been postponed to at least July 31.
  • The company is also rescheduling a simulated cruise to practice the CDC's safety measures with a group of volunteer cruisers scheduled for late June.

Between the lines: The 1,400 crew members aboard the megaship were vaccinated on June 4, according to Bayley, but the two-week period hadn't passed since the second shot. Royal Caribbean has quarantined all crew members for 14 days and will continue requiring COVID-19 testing.

What they're saying: The call was made "out of an abundance of caution," Bayley said.

  • “While disappointing, this is the right decision for the health and well-being of our crew and guests,” the CEO added.

Zoom out: Celebrity Edge, part of the Royal Caribbean Group, is expected to become the first post-pandemic ship to sail from the U.S. with ticketed passengers on June 26.

  • Celebrity Edge can sail without a simulated run because it followed CDC guidelines permitting ships with 98% vaccinated crew and 95% vaccinated guests to avoid that step, a Celebrity Cruises’ spokesperson told the AP.
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