Cruises are facing disruption again due to Covid-19 – KION546

By Jason Hanna, CNN

At least four ocean cruise ships were turned away from ports of call this week due to Covid-19 cases or were not allowed to let passengers off board in America.

Although Covid-19 cases have appeared on other cruises since U.S.-based ships resumed service this summer with vaccine requirements and other measures to minimize outbreaks, the rate of cruises being forced to change their itineraries appears to be gone up.

The disruptions are still a long way from March 2020, when the pandemic crippled the industry and led to weeks of efforts to get already embarked passengers and crew home as ports were closed to virus-infected ships.

Still, this week’s disruption came amid global concerns about the highly communicable variant of Omicron coronavirus and as Covid-19 case rates rose in the US and elsewhere.

Recent disruptions on cruise lines include:

• Mexican officials prevented that Holland America line Koningsdam disembark its passengers in Puerto Vallarta on Thursday after 21 crew members tested positive for Covid-19, the Jalisco State Health Department said.

A “small number of fully vaccinated crew members” tested positive and all showed either mild or no symptoms, Holland America Line told CNN.

Jalisco health authorities initially wanted people who tested negative to disembark. They changed their minds, however, and led an “exponential growth in confirmed cases in the crew” through Thursday, the department said. Only one crew member had tested positive less than a week earlier, the department said.

The ship, which left San Diego on December 19 with more than 1,000 passengers and more than 870 crew members, visited Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlán before arriving in Puerto Vallarta. It is scheduled to return to San Diego on Sunday.

Holland America Line, like the other cruise lines in this story, requires passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with a few exceptions for children.

• Ports on the Caribbean islands of Bonaire and Aruba rejected the. away Carnival freedom Ship on Wednesday or Thursday after “a small number” of people on board tested positive for Covid-19, the cruise company said.

However, the company made a replacement stop in the Dominican Republic on Friday.

It was also allowed to stop in Curacao on Tuesday. Dr. Izzy Gerstenbluth, the national epidemiologist for Curacao, said the ship had notified him prior to arrival that crew members had tested positive. After visiting the ship and finding that the cases were trapped in the crew, Curacao allowed the ship’s passengers to disembark, with the crew remaining on board, he said.

The ship will return to Miami on Sunday as planned, the cruise company said.

• Officials in Curacao and Aruba rejected the Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas This week, after 55 fully vaccinated crew members and passengers were infected with Covid-19, the Miami Herald reported on Wednesday.

Curacao health officials ruled the percentage of people who tested positive on board was too high for the nation to moor the ship, the Curacao Chronicle reported.

The ship is scheduled to return to Florida’s Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.

According to Royal Caribbean, the ship can accommodate up to 5,550 guests plus 1,600 crew members. It was not clear whether the ship was fully occupied.

• Colombian officials prevented that Seven Seas Mariner Do not let anyone alight in Cartagena on Wednesday after seven positive Covid-19 cases – including six crew members and one passenger – were reported. The ship began an 18-day voyage from Miami to San Francisco on December 18.

Also this month at least 48 people were on board the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas tested positive for Covid-19, the cruise company said after the ship ended its voyage in Miami on December 18. This ship, with more than 6,000 passengers and crew, stopped on three islands and did not report any interruption in the route.

So far, only a small proportion of the cruise ships in operation have been affected by the disruptions

The cruise changes represent a small fraction of the dozen cruise lines that have sailed the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, the wider Atlantic and Pacific that month.

Positive Covid-19 tests aboard cruise lines aren’t unique this month – they have occurred at different times since cruises resumed from U.S. shores this summer.

For example, in August 27 people tested positive on a Carnival cruise ship before calling at a port in Belize City.

However, while those who tested positive were isolated on the ship, other people were allowed to disembark there if they could prove a negative test.

Now, the proliferation of the Omicron variant “can affect the way some target authorities themselves view a small number of cases, even when handled with our strict protocols,” Mardi Gras spokeswoman AnneMarie Mathews told CNN on Friday in a prepared statement .

“Some destinations have limited medical resources and focus on managing their own local response to the variant,” added Mathews.

“Should a port have to be canceled, we will do our best to find an alternative destination,” said Mathews.

Health and Safety Protocols

Cruise companies have implemented many onboard health and safety requirements – and updated them to reflect the changed conditions – to avoid a repeat of Spring 2020. This included obliging crew members and passengers (excluding children) against Covid-19 vaccines, with vaccines providing strong protection against serious illness and death.

The companies recommend booster shots to their passengers. Holland America Line says its crew members will be given boosters as soon as they are eligible.

Cruise companies generally require their passengers to test negative for Covid-19 prior to travel and require their crews to be tested frequently.

Passengers who tested positive during the trip are generally required to isolate themselves

US-based cruises also require the wearing of masks in indoor public areas. This policy was recently updated to extend the use of indoor masks to fully vaccinated passengers.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Francesca Street, Melissa Alonso, Aya Elamroussi, Carma Hassan, Hira Humayun, Stefano Pozzebon, Valentina DiDonato and Sharif Paget contributed to this report.

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