Coronavirus: Norwegian, Royal Caribbean cancel cruises amid omicron surge

Officials with Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruises announced cancellations Wednesday as the pandemic-stricken cruise industry grapples with the arrival of the highly transmissible omicron variant.

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In a statement, officials with Norwegian Cruise lines said they were canceling several planned voyages through April 23, including the Norwegian Getaway cruise scheduled to set sail that day, citing “ongoing travel restrictions.”

“Our first priority and the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit,” the cruise line said in a statement. “We understand the inconvenience and frustration this disruption may cause, and we appreciate the continued understanding of our loyal guests and travel agent partners.”

>> Related: CDC says to avoid cruises no matter COVID-19 vaccine status

The canceled cruises include:

  • The Norwegian Getaway cruise set to embark Jan. 5.
  • All Norwegian Pearl cruises set to embark through and including Jan. 14.
  • All Norwegian Sky cruises set to embark through and including Feb. 25.
  • All Pride of America cruises set to embark through and including Feb. 26.
  • All Norwegian Jade cruises set to embark through and including March 3.
  • All Norwegian Star cruises set to embark through and including March 19.
  • All Norwegian Sun cruises set to embark through and including April 19.
  • All Norwegian Spirit cruises set to embark through and including April 23.

On Wednesday, the Norwegian Pearl returned to Miami on Wednesday after one day at sea after crew members tested positive for COVID-19, the Miami Herald reported. Officials announced the voyage was canceled on Tuesday, one day after the ship set sail, “due to COVID related circumstances.”

>> Related: Coronavirus: Thousands held on cruise ship after COVID-19 scare

Officials with Royal Caribbean Cruises also announced the cancellation Wednesday of the Spectrum of the Seas cruise scheduled for Jan. 6, Reuters reported. The cancellation was announced after officials in Hong Kong announced earlier this month that nine people onboard the cruise ship were identified as close contacts of a person who had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel health notice late last month urging people to avoid traveling on cruise ships regardless of vaccination status, saying that “the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high.”

>> Read the full travel health notice issued by the CDC

“The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters on board ships,” the notice says. “It is especially important that travelers who are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, regardless of vaccination status.”