COVID cases disrupt cruise ship sailings

It was a rough week for the cruise line industry and travelers.

Hundreds of passengers who embarked on an 11-day cruise from Miami were returned to port on Jan. 4 after less than two days at sea because several dozen crew members got infected with COVID-19.

The pandemic also prompted a last-minute cancellation of another cruise that was scheduled to depart Jan. 4.

Norwegian Cruise Line said it was canceling sailings on eight of its ships in the U.S. and abroad to protect the health and safety of guests, crew members and communities.

The next day, a cruise ship that docked in San Francisco was put under observation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after a dozen vaccinated passengers tested positive for Coronavirus.

The results followed a random testing of 25% of the passengers aboard the 10-day cruise to Mexico. The affected individuals are either asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms, the Port of San Francisco said in a statement.

Then a couple of days later, Royal Caribbean Cruises suspended some of its cruise operations amid rising numbers of infections. The line has postponed sailings of several ships to March 7, the company said in a statement on Friday.

The news came as the Omicron variant drives extremely high infection levels in the cruise industry, prompting the CDC to investigate and place nearly 100 vessels under observation. Cruise ships are required to notify the CDC of suspected or confirmed positive cases on board.

Across the Pacific Ocean, thousands of passengers were being held Jan. 4 on a cruise ship in Hong Kong for Coronavirus testing after health authorities said nine passengers were linked to a recent Omicron cluster and ordered the ship to turn back.

Authorities forced the Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas ship, which began sailing on Jan. 2 on a “cruise to nowhere,” to return a day early, according to a government statement.

The ship was ordered to return after nine passengers were identified as close contacts of an infected patient who was linked to an Omicron cluster.

The ship returned to Hong Kong on Jan. 5 and passengers were being held onboard while they awaited testing.


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