Anna Jean Kaiser | Miami Herald
MIAMI – 48 passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas, which docked in Port Miami on Saturday, the cruise line said.
Miami-based Royal Caribbean said Sunday that every person who tests positive will be immediately quarantined. Six people who tested positive disembarked mid-voyage and were flown home.
Passengers who tested positive were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.
The journey, which reported 48 positive cases of COVID-19, was a seven-day itinerary through the Caribbean, departing from Miami and visiting Saint Martin; Saint Thomas in the US Virgin Islands; and CocoCay, a private cruise line island in the Bahamas.
New cases are emerging as the omicron variant spreads rapidly across the United States, potentially interfering with vacation travel plans. Royal Caribbean said it would not affect future Symphony of Sea trips. The ship departed from Miami on a new voyage to Mexico, according to vesselfinder.com.
The ship, which arrived in Miami on Saturday, left port on December 11 with 6,091 passengers and crew on board, 95% of whom were fully vaccinated. Of the 48 people who tested positive for COVID-19, 98% were fully vaccinated.
Royal Caribbean requires all Symphony of the Seas passengers 12 years of age or older to be fully vaccinated. All passengers must be tested for COVID prior to boarding. Crew members must be fully vaccinated and tested weekly.
The 48 confirmed cases could be a setback for the cruise industry, which has been slowly reviving over the past six months.
Cruise industry leaders say cruise ship travel is the safest vacation travelers can take right now due to the controlled environment in which they may require vaccines. But breakthrough infections could put the industry in dire straits again.
Cruises were COVID-19 hotspots at the start of the pandemic, bringing the industry to a complete halt for more than a year. Many cruise lines had to take on huge debts while unable to make a profit for most of the year.
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