At least 55 crew members and guests have tested positive for COVID-19 on Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship just days after it departed from Fort Lauderdale.
The 55 who tested positive are fully vaccinated and mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic and represent about 1.1% of the people who are on the ship, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said Thursday.
"We're stuck here for eight days just watching each other not going nowhere," said Bassem Girgis, who spent $6,000 on the cruise vacation for him and his kids.
"It's a big mess man," he said. "If they know they have some COVID cases they shouldn't have 4,000 passengers on board."
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NBC 6 has learned that the cases are mostly among crew members, with 52 staff members and three passengers testing positive for the virus.
“I am sure this number will increase by the end of this trip,” said Gorgis. “I understand I took the risk, but I didn’t agree to stay on the cruise for eight days and not go nowhere.”
The health of those who tested positive is being monitored and any close contacts were identified and placed in quarantine.
The Odyssey of the Seas departed Fort Lauderdale on Saturday for an 8-night trip to the Caribbean, and sailed with 95% of the onboard community fully vaccinated, the spokesperson said.
The ship had to return to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday to disembark a guest who had tested positive.
The ship will not be making planned stops in Curacao or Aruba as a result of the cases.
"The decision was made together with the islands out of an abundance of caution due to the current trend of COVID-19 cases in the destinations’ communities as well as crew and guests testing positive on board," the cruise line said in a statement.
The ship will stay at sea until its regular scheduled return on Dec. 26.
Industry insiders say cruising is among the safest ways to travel —in addition to vaccine requirements, there's testing, health questionnaires and flexibility for guests.
The same day the Odyssey departed, another Royal Caribbean ship, the Symphony of the Seas, returned to Miami with 48 guests and crew members who had tested positive for Covid.
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