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New cruise ship’s inaugural voyage from Florida postponed after crew members test positive for COVID-19

Odyssey of the Seas docks at Port Everglades ahead of July sailing
Odyssey of the Seas docks at Port Everglades ahead of July sailing

PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. – After eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19, the inaugural voyage of Royal Caribbean’s new Odyssey of the Seas ship from Port Everglades was postponed, News4Jax partner station WPLG reports. The voyage had been scheduled for late June.

The company’s president and CEO, Michael Bayley, confirmed on social media that all 1,400 crew members were vaccinated on June 4 and will be considered fully vaccinated on June 18.

Bayley said the positive results came after the first doses were given and before the vaccines were fully effective.

He said all eight crew members have been quarantined -- two are experiencing mild symptoms and the rest are asymptomatic.

“To protect the remaining crew and prevent any further cases, we will have all crew quarantined for 14 days and continue with our routine testing,” Bayley wrote. “Guests and travel partners will be notified and given several options to consider. While disappointing, this is the right decision for the health and well-being of our crew and guests.”

WPLG reports the new date for the inaugural voyage has not been announced.

Royal Caribbean International said eight of its ships will resume U.S. voyages in July and August with trips leaving ports in Florida, Texas and Washington state.

The cruise line said all crew members will be vaccinated against COVID-19. Passengers 16 and older on cruises to Alaska will also be required to be vaccinated. The requirement will be expanded to cover Alaska-bound passengers 12 and over starting Aug. 1.

For other trips passing through U.S. water, Royal Caribbean said that passengers are “strongly recommended” to get vaccinated. Unvaccinated passengers must be tested for the virus and follow other measures that will be announced later, the company said.

Royal Caribbean said that its first U.S. sailing since March 2020 will leave Miami on July 2 on the Freedom of the Seas.

The company said that over the following six weeks, five other ships will sail the Caribbean after leaving from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Port Canaveral, Florida, and Galveston, Texas. Two ships will sail from Seattle to Alaska.

Royal Caribbean, which is headquartered in Miami but registers its ships in other countries, plans to have 12 ships operating worldwide by the end of August. Those include ships sailing from the United Kingdom, Europe and the Bahamas.

In the U.S., cruise companies are still talking with federal, state and local officials about health measures and trial sailings. Royal Caribbean plans trial voyages starting later this month. Those pilot trips are required before cruise lines can operate regular sailings with less than 95% of passengers being vaccinated.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials said that a Florida lawsuit against the federal government over conditions for cruise lines to resume sailing could threaten plans to restart cruising in Alaska.

About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.