Forty-four passengers onboard Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas cruise tested positive for COVID-19 after the ship docked in Miami on Saturday.
The cruise line also announced that one of the passengers onboard a prior cruise itinerary had tested positive for the Omicron variant.
‘We were notified by the CDC that a guest onboard our (December) 4th cruise tested positive and it was identified as omicron,’ a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean told USA TODAY on Saturday. ‘They asked us to notify guests on the sailing, the one that ended today, and the current one.’
Forty-four out of 6,074, passengers – or about .72percent – onboard the cruise that departed on December 11 tested positive for COVID after the trip around the Eastern Caribbean. The cruise line said they’ve all been quarantined.
The scene is slightly reminiscent of the early stages of the outbreak in 2020, when cruise ships became the first super-spreaders due to their enclosed environment and contact between travelers from different cities and countries.
Royal Caribbean said future cruises won’t be halted.
Forty-four passengers onboard Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas cruise tested positive for COVID-19 after the ship docked in Miami on Saturday (file picture)
The cruise line also announced that one of the passengers onboard a prior cruise itinerary had tested positive for the Omicron variant
Passengers were warned by Royal Caribbean of the 44 cases. The cruise line added that the guest who had previously tested positive for Omicron had failed to report their symptoms to the crew while onboard.
‘This guest did not report symptoms to our onboard medical teams as outlined in our health protocols,’ Royal Caribbean said in an email, according to USA Today. ‘Their post-cruise test results were subsequently confirmed as the omicron variant.’
‘They were found as a result of immediately identifying close contacts after a guest tested positive,’ Royal Caribbean spokesperson Lyan Sierra-Caro said.
The US has recorded more COVID-19 deaths than any other nation. cruise ships became the first super-spreaders in 2020
‘Everyone who tested positive is asymptomatic, and we continually monitored their health. Six guests were disembarked earlier in the cruise and transported home. The remaining guests received assistance today upon our arrival,’ she added.
She said that the Omicron case was unrelated to the 44 cases on Saturday.
Onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships, passengers age 12 and older are required to be fully vaccinated and to test negative to board the cruise.
Those under 12 are required to have a negative test.
Royal Caribbean has advised passengers to get tested three to five days after disembarking, following CDC guidelines.
Royal Caribbean had allowed fully vaccinated passengers to go maskless in designated areas
Twenty-one of its cruise ships came back in operation during the summer
Cruise ships were the first super-spreaders amid the first COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020. The enclosed environment and contact between travelers from different countries were the main factors contributing to the severity of the outbreak.
On February 1, 2020, a passenger who had been aboard the Diamond Princess days before tested positive for the virus.
After the ship arrived in Japan on February 3, 2020, more than 700 people on board became infected. The Diamond Princess was quarantined in the port of Yokohama and for weeks it was the largest outbreak in the world after China.
Cruise lines have recently updated their mask policies, requiring all passengers to wear masks indoors unless actively eating or drinking as an additional measure to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.
Royal Caribbean had allowed fully vaccinated passengers to go maskless in designated areas. Twenty-one of its cruise ships came back in operation during the summer.
Since US cruises resumed in June, travel and tourism operators have enacted vaccine and testing requirements to avoid disruptions that cost them millions of dollars for much of the pandemic.
Since US cruises resumed in June, travel and tourism operators have enacted vaccine and testing requirements to avoid disruptions that cost them millions of dollars for much of the pandemic
There are currently more thean 50 million active cased of COVID-19 in the country
Major Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Group brands require most passengers age 12 and older to be fully vaccinated but the companies do make some exceptions. Unvaccinated children under the age of five can cruise on Carnival’s ships.
Passengers must present a negative COVID test taken no more than two days before boarding. Royal Caribbean accepts antigen tests.
Walt Disney Co’s Disney Cruise Line requires all passengers eligible for vaccines in the United States to be fully vaccinated. Starting January 13, all guests ages five and up will need to be vaccinated.
Unvaccinated passengers must show a negative COVID-19 test taken between three days and 24 hours before their sail date. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted.
Everyone is tested by Disney Cruise Line at the terminal before boarding, meaning unvaccinated passengers are tested twice.
Norwegian Cruise Line has a 100percent vaccination policy, meaning children under 5 who are not yet eligible for a vaccine are not permitted on cruises.
Norwegian tests its passengers for COVID at the port before they board.
The US has reported more than 800,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic started, more than any nation in the world
To be considered fully vaccinated, all the cruise lines require the final vaccine dose to be administered 14 days before the start of the cruise.
In November, Disney World had to put its COVID-19 vaccination mandate on hold for its Florida theme park employees after Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law making it illegal for companies to require staff to get vaccinated.
The Labor Department announced Saturday that it won’t start checking businesses’ compliance with its recently reinstated vaccine-or-test rule until January 10.
Originally, the deadline for private businesses and companies to enforce the rule that their employees either get vaccinated against coronavirus or test weekly was on January 4, 2022.
After a series of court challenges, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate could move ahead.
The US has reported more than 800,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic started, more than any nation in the world.
There are currently more thean 50 million active cased of COVID-19 in the country.
Florida is the center of cruising in the US, with over 60 percent of all the country’s embarkations.
The Sunshine State has recorded 62,220 deaths since the pandemic started and has 3.75 active COVID-19 infections.