Six guests tested positive for the coronavirus onboard the Adventure of the Seas, a cruise ship sailing from Nassau in the Bahamas, Royal Caribbean confirmed to Insider on Friday.
Of the four vaccinated adults and two unvaccinated children who tested positive for COVID-19, only one is experiencing mild symptoms, while the rest are asymptomatic, the company said.
According to Royal Caribbean, the infected guests were quarantined and the people they were in close contact with tested negative. They got off the ship in Freeport, Bahamas, and took private transportation home. Morgan Hines, a USA Today reporter sailing on the ship, originally broke the news on Twitter.
All crew members and passengers over the age of 16 have to be fully vaccinated and test negative before being allowed onboard the ship, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said. Royal Caribbean also requires unvaccinated guests to purchase travel insurance, making cruising more expensive for the unvaccinated.
On June 26, a Royal Caribbean ship sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Mexico and the Bahamas was the first cruise to sail from the US since the start of the pandemic. Changes to the cruising experience included extra hand-sanitizing stations by elevators and restaurants and intensive care beds and ventilators. The ship sailed at around a third of its capacity, and over 95% of passengers were vaccinated, according to CDC guidelines.
Cruising in Florida with Royal Caribbean just got even more expensive for unvaccinated travelers: all unvaccinated passengers 12-years-old or older must show proof of travel insurance beginning August 1, the cruise line announced on its website.
The insurance policy must have a minimum of $25,000 in medical expense coverage and $50,000 for “quarantine and medical evacuation related to a positive COVID-19 test result” per person. This mandate will be enforced beginning August 1 through the end of the year, but guests who booked their cruises between March 19 and June 28 will be exempt from this new policy.
This new policy comes a week after two unvaccinated teenagers tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the Adventure of the Seas ship. The cruise was sailing “fully vaccinated”: all of the ship’s crew and 92% of passengers were fully vaccinated. The remaining 8% were guests under 16 years old, which is the age limit for the cruise line’s vaccine mandate.
Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean’s sister brand, Celebrity Cruises, also reported two COVID-19 cases aboard the Celebrity Millennium. All crew and at least 95% of guests aboard the ship were vaccinated, and the cruise line said it would cover the expenses for the two positive cases, Nivedita Balu reported for Reuters.
Cruise lines looking to operate in Florida are barred from mandating proof of vaccination due to the state’s ban on vaccine passports. To address this, besides paying for travel insurance, unvaccinated Royal Caribbean guests will also be subject to additional fees in order to cover the COVID-19 tests that vaccinated passengers won’t need to undergo. These payments range from $136 to $178 depending on the duration of the trip.
There could be on-board restrictions as well. For example, unvaccinated guests sailing on the Freedom of the Seas from Miami in July won’t be allowed to access select areas of the ship, including some of the dining options, bars, and the casino.
Two passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise sailing from the Bahamas have tested positive for COVID-19, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson confirmed with Insider on Thursday following Cruise Industry News’ report.
The two passengers were sailing aboard the Adventure of the Seas, which is currently operating with a sweeping vaccine mandate. All guests 16 years old or older aboard the ship are required to be fully vaccinated. However, the two passengers, both under 16 years old, were unvaccinated, and tested positive during “routine testing that is required before returning home,” the spokesperson said.
Both passengers were quarantined after the positive result. One is asymptomatic, while the other is “experiencing mild symptoms,” according to the spokesperson. Passengers in their travel group and “close contacts” are all vaccinated, and all tested negative for the virus.
All of the ship’s crew and 92% of its passengers are fully vaccinated as per the company’s vaccine mandate. The last 8% are people under 16 years old.
Both the passengers and their group disembarked in the Bahamas on Thursday and are now headed back to their home in Florida.
The ship was supposed to set sail on July 3, but will now set sail on July 31.
“The eight crew members, six of whom are asymptomatic and two with mild symptoms, were quarantined and are being closely monitored by our medical team,” Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley said. “To protect the remaining crew and prevent any further cases, we will have all crew quarantined for 14 days and continue with our routine testing.”
Baley said that all 1,400 crew members aboard the Odyssey were vaccinated by June 4, and are expected to be considered fully vaccinated by June 18.
“The combination of the vaccines and testing and contact tracing, all these kinds of protocols really helps us reach our objective, which is to make cruising safer than in your home community,” Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean’s CEO, told the BBC. “We want you to be more comfortable walking onboard a ship than walking down Main Street.”
The cruise line’s vaccine mandate will apply to guests who are at least 16 years old aboard ships sailing from the US or the Bahamas, according to Royal Caribbean’s frequently asked questions page. Following August 1, this age requirement will fall to 12 years old or older. Similarly, passengers 18 years old or older sailing from other international ports will also have to be fully vaccinated.
Guests under this age requirement who haven’t been vaccinated will instead have to be tested for the virus.
Regardless of the port location, guests will have to show proof of full vaccination, completed at least 14 days before the cruise departs. Like Norwegian – which also mandated the COVID-19 vaccine in April – this request for proof of the vaccine could set Royal Caribbean up for a skirmish with Florida, which has already barred vaccine passports and local businesses from requiring them.
The US hasn’t mandated the COVID vaccine for all eager cruiser goers, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that cruise lines with 98% of crew and 95% of passengers vaccinated can skip the “simulated voyages” that would otherwise be necessary for cruise lines to resume “restricted passenger voyages” again.
Royal Caribbean has canceled a series of fully vaccinated cruises from Israel amid the surging Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Royal Caribbean had planned for its new Odyssey of the Seas ship to begin sailing in June out of Haifa, Israel. The cruise series – unveiled in March – served as Royal Caribbean’s first fully vaccinated cruise announcement, and would have been the cruise line’s first voyage from Israel.
Royal Caribbean had been eyeing the chance to offer sailings from Israel “for quite some time,” Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean’s president and CEO, said in a March press release. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initially called the cruise line’s decision to sail from Israel an “important economic, touristic moment” for the country.
But now, the cruise giant will be halting its highly anticipated Israel-based sailings, which would have shuttled fully vaccinated Israelis on three- to seven-night trips to Greece and Cyprus from Haifa, Israel, and back.
“Due to the unrest in Israel and the region, we have not been able to complete the preparation required to operate,” the cruise line said on May 15 in its updated suspended sailings list.
On April 6, Norwegian announced it would halt sailings on eight ships – the Norwegian Breakaway, Dawn, Escape, Getaway, Sky, Spirit, Star, and Sun – through August 31. Sailings on the Norwegian Epic and Pearl were also put on hold through September 1 and November 7, respectively.
However, sailings aboard the Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Jade, and Norwegian Gem are set to resume in July as fully vaccinated cruises in Europe and the Caribbean.
The cruise line had also paused all sailings through November 1 that were set to be longer than seven days going to and from US ports, and any trips sailing to and from Japan through June 25, according to the November notice.
“We continue to prepare our ships for our return to service and we are eager to see our guests back on board to create summertime memories,” Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises’ president, said in a statement.
But on March 9, the cruise line again updated its suspensions list with different timelines for different cruises. For example, cruises from Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, and Rome have been halted through the end of June, while European cruises originally set to sail to and from Southhampton, England have been paused through September 25. Sailings from Seattle were also put on hold through June 27, according to an additional update only seven days later.
Two months later on May 12, Princess Cruises announced additional sailing delays for three ships as the cruise line works to complete its return-to-sailing plans, the company said in a press release. The affected sailings include all of the 2021 Mediterranean cruises aboard the Enchanted Princess, California and Mexico sailings on the Ruby Princess, and Caribbean sailings on the Caribbean Princess through August 21.
“We continue to have constructive discussions with the CDC but still have many questions that remain unanswered,” Jan Swartz, the president of Princess Cruises, said in the press release.
“We are sorry to disappoint our guests, as we can see from our booking activity that there is clearly a pent-up demand for cruising on Carnival,” Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement on the news release.
According to a December press release,Carnival has set up dry docks for the Carnival Magic, Carnival Paradise, and Carnival Valor, therefore halting any of the ships’ embarkments through September 24, May 31, and September 11, respectively. However, on January 25, Carnival announced its plans to suspend these three ships even further until November.
The January 25 release also included announcements related to several other ships and trips. One notable sailing freeze in the update includes trips out of San Diego. Seasonal service trips and planned sailings through April 2023 out of San Diego have now been suspended, and seven of these sailings to Hawaii have been moved to Long Beach, California instead.
On April 6, Carnival again halted all sailings from US ports through June 30. Christine Duffy, president of Carnival, said in a press release that the cruise line may instead decide to resume sailing from ports outside of the US, a workaround other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have decided to employ as well.
“We are asking that the cruise industry be treated on par with the approach being taken with other travel and tourism sectors, as well as US society at large,” Duffy said in the press release.
But now, the majority of Carnival’s ships won’t be accommodating passengers until July 31 the soonest, according to a May 11 press release.
However, there is one glimmer of hope for Carnival fans who can’t wait any longer. The cruise line is eyeing a potential resumption of sailing in July aboard three Carnival ships – the Vista, Breeze, and Horizon – from Florida and Texas ports. The Carnival Miracle could also see some passengers by July from Washington, but this hinges on the cruise line’s ability to sail to Alaska.
Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Cruises line also halted any trips originally planned through April 30, according to an update on January 12. Several other Celebrity Cruises sailings were paused even further through October.
Less than a month later on March 9, Celebrity announced it would push this pause back through May.
About two months later on March 9, the mega cruise group announced extended sailing pauses for its Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Silversea, and Azamara lines. In the announcement Royal Caribbean said its sailings would be put on hold through May 31, excluding its Quantum of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas ships.
But on April 8, Royal Caribbean again extended this pause, this time through June 30.
There are some exceptions to this July resumption of sailing, including the Vision of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas ships. Both will instead begin sailing in June as “fully vaccinated” cruises.
However, some trips will see an even longer suspension. This includes the Quantum of the Seas’ Alaska sailings from April to October 14 “in order to allow additional time for our preparation,” the cruise line announced. Meanwhile, Odyssey of the Seas’ Rome sailings from May to October 28 have also been suspended, and the new ship will instead set sail from Israel from June to October for Israeli residents only.
Anthem of the Seas sailings from June to August 29 have also been put on hold, and the ship will instead sail in July for UK residents only.
Celebrity and Silversea’s cruises have also been suspended through May 31, while Azamara’s has been pushed back through June 30.
Disney Cruises halted all trips through February 28, according to a travel updated posted on December 11, 2020. Cruises longer than seven nights have been suspended even further. One month later on January 12, Disney Cruises extended its no-sail date through March.
On January 27, Disney Cruises pushed this sailing freeze timeline through April, and then again through May in a February 24 announcement. All Disney Magic sailings in Europe through August 10 were then also canceled due to the “likelihood of international borders remaining closed for an extended period of time.”
On April 6, this timeline was set even further back with the suspension of Disney Dream, Fantasy, and Wonder sailings – all originally set to depart from the US – through June. The original Disney Magic cruises were also halted through September 18. The ship will instead sail as “staycation” cruises for UK residents this summer.
Like other cruise lines, Disney is “evaluating various options” for its Disney Wonder Alaska cruises with dockings in Canada.
MSC released a list of cancellation dates per cruise ship, and the sail dates vary from the end of January to November. Trips on the MSC Armonia, for example, have been canceled through May 28, while the MSC Preziosa won’t be seeing any passengers until after May 31.
Ships like the MSC Fantasia won’t hit the seas until June 5.
P&O previously announced it halted all trips through April. Now, trips on P&O’s Arcadia, Aurora, Azura, and Ventura ships have been paused through August, while its Britannia and Iona ship sailings have been put on hold through September.
On March 22, Costa Cruises announced it would delay the return of its cruises until May due to coronavirus-related restrictions in certain European countries.
“Such measures do not allow the company to offer the best cruise vacations to its guests, especially for what concerns the experience ashore,” the cruise line noted in a press release.
Costa – a Carnival-owned brand that specializes in cruising around Europe – had previous planned to restart on March 27. As of April 6, the Costa Deliziosa, Firenze, Magica and Pacifica will all resume sailing either May 28 or 29.
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Royal Caribbean’s new Wonder of the Seas cruise ship will begin sailing from China in March 2022.
The construction of the ship was first announced in 2019 as the fifth boat in Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis” lineup, which consists of the world’s biggest cruise ships. However, this latest addition to the family will be larger than its four predecessor, and will have the prestigious title as the “world’s largest cruise ship,” according to Royal Caribbean.
Keep scrolling to see the Wonder of the Seas, which will hopefully debut during better times:
The Wonder of the Seas ship was originally set to embark from Shanghai in 2021, but its initial debut was delayed due to the COVID-19, USA Today reported.
Now, the cruise ship will be setting sail in March 2022 from Shanghai and Hong Kong, and will shuttle passengers to famous Asian destinations like Taipei, Tokyo, and Chan May, Vietnam.
“By introducing Wonder of the Seas and the iconic Oasis Class to China, our strong commitment to the market’s growth is reaffirmed yet again for years to come,” Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said in a press release.
Like any ship, the Wonder of the Seas will also have a “Pool and Sports Zone” neighborhood with amenities like an 82-foot zip line, mini-golf, a 10-story water slide. But if you’re more interested in shows or karaoke, you can head to the “Entertainment Place” instead.
The “Royal Promenade” neighborhood will be home to shopping, food, music, and entertainment, while the “Vitality Spa and Fitness Center” will offer the opportunity for a quick workout or some rest and relaxation.
Like most family-friendly cruise ships, the Wonder of the Seas will also have a “Youth Zone” for infants up to teenagers. But the last zone, the “Suite Neighborhood” – with a private deck, lounge, and eateries – will only be available to guests staying in suites.
If all of this sounds appealing to you, Royal Caribbean is now accepting bookings for its Wonder of the Seas sailings.
Florida and cruise companies could be locked in a battle over vaccine requirements as the state puts a ban on vaccine passports while cruise lines continue to mandate the jabs for passengers and crew.
On April 2, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning vaccine passports and local businesses from requiring this proof of vaccination. This ban applies to cruise lines as well, DeSantis’ press secretary Cody McCloud told Insider in an email.
“The Governor’s Executive Order provides that businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business,” McCloud told Insider in an email. “Therefore, the Executive Order prohibits cruise lines from requiring vaccine passports for their Florida operations.”
However, major cruise lines – with the exception of those with a sweeping vaccine mandate – have withheld announcing a vaccine policy for future sailing series departing from US ports. So far, all of Royal Caribbean’s cruises operating under a vaccine order will be sailing out of international ports located in countries like Israel, Bermuda, and Cyprus.
This includes Jim Walker – an attorney based in South Florida with a specialization in maritime law – who told the Sun Sentinel that DeSantis may not have the jurisdiction needed to either prohibit cruise lines from enforcing a vaccine mandate or bring cruises back.
Regardless, it could be a while before we see any stand-off between the state and cruise lines interested in sailing out of Florida with a vaccine requirement.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to give cruise lines the green light to resume sailing and has shied away from enforcing an industry-wide vaccine mandate. As a result, no major cruise lines will be sailing from US ports in the near future, even if the ship is traveling with a vaccine mandate.
Cruising could be a “lower risk” travel option compared to other alternatives, such as overseas vacations, Scott Gottlieb, the former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on April 9.
Many major cruise lines have created robust health and safety protocols to make the return of sailing safer amid COVID-19. This includes Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Group, which partnered to establish the Healthy Sail Panel. The panel suggests ways for the industry to move ahead safely amid virus concerns and is currently being co-chaired by Gottlieb, a Pfizer board member.
“As you start to implement all these public health recommendations that we’ve outlined, you start to create an environment that can be quite safe,” Gottlieb told CNBC. “You can create a protective bubble around the [cruise] experience.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, virus outbreaks aboard cruise ships around the world left thousands of cruisers stranded or infected. Shortly after, the CDC put a no-sail order in place, which was later replaced by its recently updated conditional sailing order.