More than a dozen Covid cases have been identified on the cruise ship docked Sunday in New Orleans, health officials said, highlighting the obstacles the cruise line industry continues to face after more than a year of restrictions and setbacks.
Ten people aboard the Norwegian Breakaway operated by the Norwegian Cruise Line initially tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. But by Sunday, that number had risen to 17, health officials said. This includes one “likely case” of the Omicron variant in a crew member, they said.
The Norwegian Breakaway, carrying over 3,200 people, departed New Orleans on November 28 and made stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico before returning to Louisiana.
Health officials said Norwegian Cruise Line followed relevant quarantine and isolation protocols, adding that every passenger will be required to take a Covid test before disembarking.
Travelers who tested positive either drove their cars directly to their homes or were in self-isolation, officials said in a statement.
Norwegian Cruise Line has one of the most stringent immunization policies in the industry, requiring all passengers, including children, and crew to be antigen tested and fully vaccinated before boarding. Children who are not eligible for vaccinations are not allowed to travel.
Norwegian Cruise Line did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
At the onset of the pandemic, outbreaks on cruise ships that turned into major events attracted headlines. Even after vaccinations rolled out in the United States in April, allowing much of the travel industry to resume operations, cruise ships remained docked in ports, causing the industry billions of dollars in losses every month.
By the summer, the return was in full swing, with many cruise lines reporting increased bookings and improved handling of Covid-19 protocols. But the recent spike in Covid cases in parts of the United States and Europe, as well as growing concerns over the Omicron variant, could slow that rise.