In what was supposed to be a sign that U.S. sailing was back to normal, the inaugural voyage of Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas has to be delayed as eight crew members have tested positive for COVID-19.
The news comes from Royal Caribbean's president and CEO Michael Bayley on Facebook. He said that a simulation cruise that was scheduled for June also has to be postponed.
He wrote: "During routine testing, eight crew members received a positive test result for COVID-19. 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 adds: "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."
As a result all staff including Bayley will need quarantine for 14 days as a safety precaution.
The original cruise date for Odyssey of the Seas was supposed to be July 3, 2021, from Ft. Lauderdale. That date has been changed to July 31, 2021. The June test cruise has yet to have a confirmed reschedule date, but it will need to be done before the Odyssey of the Seas can begin formal operations.
Some Royal Caribbean cruises out of the U.S. will still go ahead as scheduled. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) approved the company to start simulated testing before the summer tourist swarm. The cruise company does not require proof of vaccine for passengers but it is mandatory for the crew.
Simulated sailings out of the U.S. contain volunteers. They are in place to monitor health and safety protocols. These "trial" cruises are not required if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers fully vaccinated according to Travel + Leisure.
*Header image courtesy of Royal Caribbean