Nearly 50 people test positive on Royal Caribbean cruise

The company said 95 percent of the 6,091 passengers and crew were fully vaccinated. 

Nearly 50 passengers and crew members aboard Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas ship tested posted for COVID-19 last week, prompting the massive vessel to return to PortMiami in Miami Saturday. 

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas ship, one of the world’s largest cruise ships, required COVID-19 vaccination for the nearly 7,000 passengers and crew who set out on a seven-night Caribbean voyage that departed Miami Dec. 11.

The ship made stops at St. Martin, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and The Bahamas before returning to Miami Dec. 18 after an outbreak of four dozen COVID cases, the Miami Herald reports

A statement from Royal Caribbean said the 48 passengers who tested positive “were identified as a result of immediate contact tracing after a guest tested positive.” They were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, per the report. 

“Each person quickly went into quarantine. Everyone who tested positive was asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, and we continuously monitored their health,” the statement said.

Six of the passengers who tested positive disembarked earlier in the cruise, the company said.

Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas Cruise ship (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

According to the report, of the 48 who tested positive for COVID-19, 98 percent were fully vaccinated. The company said 95 percent of the 6,091 passengers and crew were fully vaccinated. 

Royal Caribbean requires all passengers on the Symphony of the Seas who are 12 or older to be fully vaccinated. Crew members are fully vaccinated and test weekly. Masks must be worn except when eating and drinking or participating in certain activities. 

In August, 27 people tested positive for COVID-19 on a Carnival cruise just before the ship made a stop in Belize City, The Associated Press reported

The positive cases were among 26 crew members and one passenger on the Carnival Vista, which was carrying over 1,400 crew and nearly 3,000 passengers, the Belize Tourism Board said in a statement. All 27 were vaccinated, had mild or no symptoms and were isolated. The tourism board said 99.98 percent of the ship’s crew was vaccinated, as well as 96.5 percent of its passengers, per the report.

Carnival requires passengers to be vaccinated, though there are exceptions for children and people with medical issues.

Last year, the CDC ordered cruise ships to stop sailing to U.S. ports amid a surge in COVID cases.

As reported by The Associated Press, the cruise industry closed for business for most of 2020 starting in mid-March. Cruise Lines International Association estimates that suspending cruises ceased more than $25 billion in economic activity and 164,000 American jobs.

This article contains additional reporting from The Associated Press.

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