Royal Caribbean International announced that it had suspended some of its upcoming Cruises due to concerns over the Omicron variant.
The company, one of the world’s biggest cruise operators, said that it was taking the step “out of an abundance of caution.” This is the second time this week that Royal Caribbean has called off voyages.
“We regret having to cancel our guests’ long-awaited vacations and appreciate their loyalty and understanding,” the company said in a statement on its website. “Our top priority is always the well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit.”
Royal Caribbean said it had called off planned trips on three ships — Serenade of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas — and pushed back the return to cruising of another, Vision of the Seas, to March.
The pandemic nearly shut down the cruising industry for 18 months. It made a resurgence this summer, but it has come under increasing scrutiny for its safety protocols in recent months.
Clusters of disease broke out on two Royal Caribbean cruises that left Florida in December. More than a dozen people were also tested positive for the virus on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship returning to New Orleans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) later advised Americans to avoid cruises, regardless their vaccination status. It raised its Covid-19 warning level for ships on cruise ships to 4, which is the highest level.
Last weekend, a New Year’s cruise operated by a German line, AIDA Cruises, was held up in Portugal when dozens of crew members tested positive. A few days later, the positive tests were initiated by passengers.
Royal Caribbean, which has resumed U.S. operations since June, requires that all travelers aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated and tested negative for Covid-19 before boarding. Children younger than 12 years old who have not been vaccinated must submit a negative P.C.R. Before sailing, test results must be obtained and a negative result taken at the terminal. The company claims that all its crew members have been fully vaccinated. They also undergo weekly testing.
The company isn’t the only one cancelling cruises this week. Norwegian Cruise Line also suspended its voyages to address the increasing number of coronavirus infections onboard its ships.
Source: NY Times