Royal Caribbean postpones ship’s debut amid COVID-19 crew outbreak

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A COVID-19 outbreak among vaccinated crew members has prompted Royal Caribbean International to postpone the inaugural sailings of its newest cruise ship.

The Odyssey of the Seas had been slated to sail six- and eight-night Southern and Western Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., between July 3 and July 31, but cruise line spokesperson Lyan Sierra-Caro confirmed to USA Today that those four outings have been canceled.

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The ship’s launch with paying passengers has now been postponed until July 31.

Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley confirmed in a Facebook post that eight vaccinated Odyssey of the Seas crew members tested positive for COVID-19 during routine testing.

“All 1,400 crew onboard Odyssey of the Seas were vaccinated on June 4th and will be considered fully vaccinated on June 18. The positive cases were identified after the vaccination was given and before they were fully effective,” Bayley wrote, noting the cancelations were ordered out of an “abundance of caution.”

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

Two steps forward and one step back ! out of an abundance of caution, we are postponing Odyssey’s inaugural sailing...

Posted by Michael Bayley on Tuesday, June 15, 2021

All eight crew members who tested positive were quarantined and are being closely monitored by the company’s medical team, but only two of the infected employees displayed symptoms that were described as mild, he wrote.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published earlier this month concluded that while post-vaccination “breakthrough” coronavirus cases are expected, those infections appear to result in milder COVID-19 symptoms than in unvaccinated people, CNN reported.

Royal Caribbean’s vaccination policy requires all guests 16 and older departing U.S. ports to be fully vaccinated, excluding ships leaving from Florida. The protocol will apply to all passengers 12 and older beginning Aug. 1, the network reported.

Passengers disrupted by the announced cancellations “will be notified and given several options to consider,” Bayley wrote.

Seven other Royal Caribbean ships are scheduled to sail from ports in Texas, Florida and Seattle this summer, USA Today reported.

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