Just when everyone thought it was safe to get back in the water. Christmas offered no gifts to the cruise industry. Instead, visions of May 2020 danced in our heads.
“Through Tuesday, 86 cruise ships carrying passengers in U.S. waters were reporting coronavirus cases onboard…” according to CDC tracking data, writes the Washington Post. That number was up from 73 just one day prior.
The comings and goings of massive passenger cruise ships, of course, have a massive effect on many coastal destinations throughout North America, from Canada to Mexico and the Caribbean.
CNN reported, “Officials in Curacao and Aruba turned away the Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas this week after 55 fully vaccinated crew members and passengers contracted Covid-19. According to Royal Caribbean, this one ship alone returning to Fort Lauderdale can accommodate up to 5,550 guests plus 1,600 crew members.
An additional rundown comes from Insider Traveler Report, a publication for travel agents, “At least 48 people tested positive on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, which docked in Miami on Saturday. More than 6,000 passengers and crew members were on the Dec. 11 cruise, Royal Caribbean said, adding that those who tested positive were immediately isolated to prevent the spread of infection. The cruise line said they were either asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms.
There was an unconfirmed report that Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas had been denied entry into St. Thomas. There was also another unconfirmed report that 1.4 percent of the guests and crew, possibly as high as 84 people, had tested positive on Oasis of the Seas, sailing out of Fort Lauderdale. Royal Caribbean subsequently announced it will not be accepting new bookings on its cruises until Jan. 10 in an effort to keep occupancies down on its ships.
Elsewhere, Holland America’s Koningsdam, sailing out of San Diego, was forced to return home without making its scheduled stop in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico after authorities would not allow guests to disembark due to positive COVID-19 tests among the crew. According to Mexican authorities, 21 crew members aboard Koningsdam tested positive for COVID-19 as the ship arrived in the port of Puerto Vallarta on Dec. 23.
A Holland America spokesperson confirmed that a small number of the 875 crew, who were all fully vaccinated, had tested positive and were showing mild symptoms. The staff was in isolation and close contacts were quarantining. According to Mexico’s Ministry of Health, before the ship departed from San Diego on Dec. 19, the entire crew had been tested for COVID-19 and only one positive case was found.
Meanwhile, Carnival Freedom was reportedly denied entry to Bonaire and Aruba. ‘A small number of people infected aboard the Freedom ship have been isolated from other passengers and crew,’ Carnival said. The ship, which returned to Miami on Sunday for another sailing, had 2,497 passengers and 1,112 crew members aboard. No word on how many had tested positive for COVID.
MSC Seashore reported 28 cases among 4,714 guests and crew on a cruise earlier this month. Two days after the boat disembarked last Thursday, some guests said they felt some symptoms of COVID-19, including a sore throat and higher temperature.” MSC plans to offer an additional free antigen test for all future passengers upon boarding.