Fifty-five passengers and crew members have tested positive for COVID-19 on Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship, which departed Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Saturday for an eight-night Caribbean trip, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean told USA TODAY.
The ship, which returned briefly to port on Sunday to disembark a passenger with COVID-19, is carrying 3,587 passengers and 1,599 crew. With vaccinations required among all crew members and guests 12 and older, 95% of those on board were fully vaccinated, according to Royal Caribbean.
“During routine weekly testing of our fully vaccinated crew members, there were test results that came back positive for COVID-19,” the company said in a statement shared by spokesperson Lyan Sierra-Caro late Tuesday night. “Close contacts were quickly identified, and they each immediately went into quarantine.”
The passengers and crew who tested positive and their close contacts are quarantining, according to Royal Caribbean. Those who tested positive are either mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic and being monitored by an on-board medical team.
Royal Caribbean announced Wednesday that the cruise will not stop in Curacao or Aruba as planned.
“The decision was made together with the islands and out of an abundance of caution due to the current trend of cases in the destination communities and having COVID-19 positive cases on board … representing 1.1% of the onboard community,” according to a statement shared by Sierra-Caro.
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Weekly testing of crew members is one of the protocols on Royal Caribbean’s ships, part of a “multilayered set of comprehensive health and safety measures,” the company said. Other protocols include enhanced cleaning, a vaccine requirement for passengers and crew, and the use of masks, among others.
“In an abundance of caution for the well-being of our guests and crew, adjustments have been made to Odyssey of the Seas’ schedule of shows and activities on board the Dec. 18 sailing,” Royal Caribbean said in the statement shared by Sierra-Caro.
Odyssey of the Seas is currently under yellow status, meaning the U.S. health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is investigating the situation and that the ship is under observation.
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