Royal Caribbean postponed the inaugural sailing of its Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship after several crew members tested positive for COVID-19.
CEO Michael Bayley announced on social media Tuesday that the decision to delay the scheduled sailing from July 3 to July 31 was made out of an “abundance of caution” following the positive tests from eight crew members.
“All 1,400 crew onboard Odyssey of the Seas were vaccinated on June 4th and will be considered fully vaccinated on June 18. The positive cases were identified after the vaccination was given and before they were fully effective,” Bayley said in the statement. “The eight crew members, six of whom are asymptomatic and two with mild symptoms, were quarantined and are being closely monitored by our medical team.”
A simulation cruise that was scheduled for late June will also be rescheduled.
The Miami-based cruise line docked the ship at Port Everglades on June 10. The ship is the cruise line’s first Quantum Ultra Class that will be using the Broward County location as its homeport.
“As disappointing as it is, certainly we want to make sure cruising comes back, but we want to make sure it comes back safely," Port Everglades Port Director Jonathan Daniels said Wednesday. “Certainly as frustrating as it is for [Royal Caribbean], they made a very good decision to push it back to make sure the crew and everybody in place is in the position where they are following the protocols and procedures and it shows the protocols are working."
Odyssey of The Seas will sail on six- and eight-night cruises around the Caribbean through 2022. The German-built ship was scheduled to set sail last fall, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All Royal Caribbean crew members will be vaccinated against COVID-19, and the company said guests are "strongly recommended" to be fully vaccinated. Guests who aren't vaccinated or are unable to verify that they are vaccinated will have to undergo testing and follow other protocols that will be "announced at a later date," the company said.
Royal Caribbean said 90% of vacationers booking with them are either vaccinated or planning to get vaccinated in time for their cruise.
The federal government shut down all cruises in March of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, the state of Florida filed a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over its no-sail order.
“It’s an exciting time, but it’s one that we’re still cautious about," said Daniels. "We’re making sure that everything’s in place so that we don’t end up in a situation where we have to shut down again."