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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.

Go deeper

Updated Jun 16, 2021 - Economy & Business

In photos: Life slowly returning to normal as restrictions lift across U.S.

Fireworks near the Statue of Liberty in New York City marking the end of New York State's pandemic restrictions in New York state and honoring frontline workers. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New Yorkers and Californians celebrated most COVID-19 restrictions lifting on Tuesday, as the two states became the latest to move toward fully reopening their economies.

The big picture: The pandemic has now claimed over 600,000 lives in the U.S., but vaccines have helped drive down the seven-day average to roughly 14,000 new cases and fewer than 400 deaths per day, helping most states to ease restrictions.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Jun 16, 2021 - Health

Graphic: Which states have vaccinated at least 70% of adults

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

In 15 states, at least 70% of adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the latest CDC data shows.

On the flip side, fewer than 50% of adults have gotten at least one shot in four states including Wyoming, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The majority of states (29) have reached 60% or more of adults with at least one dose of the vaccine.

Jun 16, 2021 - Health

How prior coronavirus infections factor into herd immunity

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

People who were previously infected with the coronavirus have some level of protection against reinfection, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't get vaccinated.

Why it matters: If you're trying to calculate herd immunity, previous infections count for something. But protection from both vaccines and infections likely decreases over time, and getting at least one shot of a vaccine increases people with prior infections' level of protection against variants.