Sun | Jul 25, 2021

COVID-19 cases delay long-awaited Royal Caribbean cruise

Published:Wednesday | June 16, 2021 | 1:06 PM
In this March 14, 2020, file photo, a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship is seen docked at PortMiami, among other cruise ships, as the world deals with the coronavirus outbreak in Miami. Royal Caribbean is postponing the initial voyages by one of its cruise ships after eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19. The company said Wednesday, June 16, 2021, that the Odyssey of the Seas' first trip is being pushed back from July 3 to July 31. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

MIAMI (AP) — Royal Caribbean International is postponing for nearly a month one of the highly anticipated first sailings from the United States since the pandemic began because eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19, the company's CEO said.

The brand new Odyssey of the Seas was to set sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on July 3 but is now postponed to July 31.

Royal Caribbean International's CEO Michael Bayley said late Tuesday on Facebook that the decision had been made “out of an abundance of caution,” adding that the company is also rescheduling a simulation cruise scheduled for late June.

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

Bayley said all 1,400 crew members aboard the Odyssey of the Seas were vaccinated on June 4, but two weeks had not passed for their bodies to build protection against the virus.

Six of the crew members who tested positive are asymptomatic and two are mildly sick, he said, adding that the company has quarantined all crew members for 14 days and will continue routine testing.

Company spokeswoman Lyan Sierra-Caro said the trial voyage with volunteer passengers that was originally planned for later this month would help the cruise line meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements before resuming trips with paying passengers.

The CDC has not yet approved the trial run, Sierra-Caro said.

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 US because of the pandemic.

Celebrity Edge, also part of the Royal Caribbean Group, is to set sail on June 26.

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