Royal Caribbean International is postponing the inaugural sailings of its newest cruise ship after eight crew members received positive COVID-19 test results during routine testing.
The Odyssey of the Seas initial sailings, which the cruise line had laid out as six- and eight-night Southern and Western Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from July 3 to July 31, are being canceled out of an abundance of caution, Royal Caribbean spokesperson Lyan Sierra-Caro told USA TODAY. The ship’s launch will be postponed until July 31, when the first sailing with paying passengers, is now scheduled to depart. Four sailings were scrapped in total.
A test cruise originally slated by the company to leave in late June, though it hadn’t yet received CDC approval to sail, is on track to be rescheduled at a date to be later announced, according to Sierra-Caro.
Those who had planned to sail with the ship “will be notified and given several options to consider,” Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley said in a Facebook post.
Ready to set sail? Royal Caribbean announces summer cruises from Texas, Florida ports
All 1,400 crew members on Odyssey were vaccinated on June 4, but the positive cases were found before the vaccines would be considered fully effective June 18.
Of the eight crew members who tested positive, six are asymptomatic and two have mild symptoms. They were all quarantined and are being monitored by Royal Caribbean’s medical team, according to Bayley’s post. All crew members are set to quarantine for 14 days, and the cruise line plans to continue weekly routine testing.
“While disappointing, this is the right decision for the health and well-being of our crew and guests,” Bayley said in the post.
The ship had originally been set for an inaugural sailing from Haifa, Israel, on June 2, which was canceled due to unrest in the region.
Seven other Royal Caribbean ships are slated to set sail from ports in Texas, Florida and Seattle this summer.
Passengers aboard most Royal Caribbean cruises are “strongly recommended” to be fully vaccinated, and those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify their vaccinations will need to undergo testing and follow other protocols.
Those aboard Alaskan-bound ships in July who are 16 and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The age requirement drops to 12 starting Aug. 1.