As COVID-19, the Omicron variation of COVID-19 quickly spreads ports have been forced to stop cruise ships that recall the March of 2020 outbreak. The cruise companies on their own claim they are in place with the outbreaks being restricted to 1 or 2 percent of the people aboard however, they are expanding the restrictions on board due to the speedy spread of the new variation.
The latest incident started this week, when the Caribbean Island countries comprised of Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire all refused permission to cruise vessels to dock at their ports following being told that the cruise ship carried infections of the virus on board. For Europe, MSC Cruises also delayed its planned Northern European cruises in the Baltic region due to the increased restrictions and health regulations in a number of ports. MSC has announced plans to resume the cruises in January mid-January. Cruises continue as scheduled in other areas, such as cruises in Mediterranean, Caribbean, and from Dubai.
Officials from the health department of Curacao informed the local newspaper called the Curacao Chronicle that they felt the proportion of infections was high and that it was growing quickly. The paper spoke to an epidemiologist named Dr. Gerstenbluth saying, “The day before yesterday, 18 crew members were positive, yesterday 36, and this morning there were 51,” explaining the situation on the Odyssey of the Seas which is a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship that was not allowed to dock. The neighboring Aruba also made similar decisions for their Odyssey of the Seas and also refused to dock Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Freedom after the ship had reported COVID-related cases within its crew. Bonaire has also refused to accept its Carnival Cruise Ship.
Royal Caribbean International confirmed that in routine tests on their cruise vessel 55 crew members and passengers were positive for COVID-19 on an excursion that left Port Everglades on December 18. The cruise line stated that all the 1,599 crew members have been vaccinated, and that 95 percent of the 3,587 passengers have also been checked out and are negative prior to the departure of the cruise. Most of cases are believed to be part of the crew members, but every single one who has tested positive is kept at the ship. On the day that the cruise started the ship also temporarily made its way back to Florida to embark the passenger who had confirmed positive as well as close contacts.
With the outbreaks that have been reported in addition to the fact that the latest strain is more transmittable and more prone to transmission, cruise lines have increased their restrictions. Major companies have announced they will be imposing requirements on masking while onboard as well as vaccinations. Royal Caribbean and several other cruise lines have also stopped smoking in their casinos. They are usually the only indoor space where smoking is permitted, and said that it violates the requirement to wear masks. The trade journal for the travel industry Travel Weekly is also reporting that Royal Caribbean has stopped accepting reservations for additional bookings on forthcoming cruises in order to limit passengers capacity and allow for greater social distancing on the ships.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention informed Today that it is studying the recent outbreaks COVID-19 reported by cruise lines. In the week prior to the latest cases were reported on Odyssey of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International also reported 48 cases on another cruise ship which is that of the Symphony of the Seas. All major cruise lines have reported what is a growing number of cases of breakthrough. MSC Cruises’ MSC Seashore operating from Miami has reported 28 cases of the disease among its vaccinated passengers and crew in the last week. Then on Monday Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 arrived in New York after a week-long Atlantic crossing, with 10 passengers who tested positive, even though they had been vaccinated and tested before departure from England.