Cruise lines say no change on sailing plans, despite Covid-19 cases on test run

Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas arrives at Port Everglades on June 10, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas arrives at Port Everglades on June 10, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (REUTERS) - Royal Caribbean Group and Carnival will push ahead with a return to cruises this summer despite two guests onboard a test run for Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Millennium ship testing positive for Covid-19.

A year after several cruise ships were host to major coronavirus outbreaks and with large numbers of Americans now vaccinated, cruise lines have been striving to get business going.

Shares in Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which all booked massive losses last year as restrictions brought the industry to a standstill, fell between 1 per cent and 2 per cent in response to the positive tests.

Asked by Reuters on Friday, Royal Caribbean declined to give more details on the guests who had tested positive or the circumstances of their infection.

Celebrity Cruises later said it was paying to fly both guests home privately on Saturday and planning to disembark the remaining passengers on time after being tested.

A source close to Carnival who declined to be named said the company was also pressing ahead with its summer cruises as planned.

The Celebrity Millennium cruise is due to end on the island of St Maarten on Saturday.

Vaccination, test required

All guests on board were required to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative Covid-19 test before sailing from St Maarten a week ago.

The operator, one of the first in North America to restart operations on a trial basis, said on Thursday the individuals were asymptomatic, in isolation and being monitored by medics.

Celebrity was also conducting contact tracing and expediting testing for all close contacts, it added.

Cruise industry blogger Ashley Kosciolek wrote in her live blog that she was told on Thursday evening that the infected passengers had been on her onshore excursion on Barbados two days earlier. She was asked to stay in her room for about four hours, until her results showed negative.

Kosciolek's posts showed the cruise had also stopped in Aruba and Curacao.

Cruise lines are in discussions with Florida, from where some trips will sail, after the state's governor pushed against people having to show proof of vaccine. Trips are scheduled to start in June and early July, sailing to the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera and Alaska.

Cruise expert Stewart Chiron, who is on board the Celebrity Millennium ship, told Reuters that life onboard on Thursday night had gone on as planned, with dinners, shows, and evening entertainment. He said no one on board was wearing masks.