As expected, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a yellow warning today for the Jewel of the Seas indicating that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship reached the threshold level of COVID-19 cases sufficient for the CDC to initiate an investigation into the disease on the ship.

As we have reported in prior articles, there has been a continuous number of COIVD-19 cases on this ship for the past six weeks as the ship sailed the Greek Isles from its home port of Limassol, Cyprus.  There have been over a hundred positive cases involving guests and crew members on the Jewel of the Seas during this time period, including eigth crew members who tested positive as the ship sailed across the Atlantic to South Florida to begin sailing Western Caribbean cruises from Miami.

In our last blog addressing the Jewel of the Seas, we wrote that “it remains likely that when the Jewel arrives in Miami, the CDC will place either an orange or yellow color designation for the ship given the fact that there are crew on the ship who are under quarantine for COVID-19.”

The Jewel of the Seas left Miami yesterday on its first cruise since repositioning to Miami from Cyprus. We reasonably expect that the ship will continue to experience positive COVID-19 cases involving crew members and guests.

There are currently fifteen Royal Caribbean owned cruise ships which the CDC is either investigating or monitoring for COVID-19 cases, including the Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. In addition to these Royal Caribbean ships, the Royal Caribbean owned Celebrity Apex, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Reflection, and Celebrity Solstice are also under the scruntiy of the CDC given recent prior COVID-19 cases.

We will report further regarding the the current number of guests on the Jewel of the Seas who recently have tested positive for coronavirus during this cruise.

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Image credit: Top – Jewel of the Seas – Dave souza – CC BY-SA 2.5 commons / wikimedia.org; CDC cruise COVID-19 color chart – CDC

The Jewel of the Seas continues its voyage across the Altantic to Miami, after it sailed earlier this week from Gilbraltar.  The ship is scheduled to arrive this Sunday (November 14th) and will then sail on a five-day Western Caribbean cruise on November 15th.

At the end of last month, the Jewel of the Seas ended its sailing season from Limassol, Cyprus where it completed a total of 17 seven-night cruises to the Greek Isles, calling at Piraeus, Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos, Santorini, and back to Limassol. The ship has encountered an ongoing problem with ship employees and guests testing positive for COVID-19 during these cruises.

On November 1st, we reported that thirteen people (nine guests and four crew members) tested positive for the virus. This is in addition to the fifty passengers on this cruise ship who tested positive in the prior thirty day period, as we reported on October 23, 2021.

The latest testing of crew members aboard the Jewel of the Seas resulted in at least six* ship employees testing positive for COVID-19.  These infected crew members were then isolated in the “red zone” onboard the ship, for a fourteen day quarantine.

Four crew members tested positive after PCR tests.  In addition, yesterday, the crew underwent the beginning of TERABio breathing tests for further analysis and testing of COVID-19. The results of the testing showed two additional crew members positive for COVID-19. A ship medical secretary and and a member of the ship’s marine administration both tested positive.

The TERABio  tests continue today. I suspect that there will be additional crew members who test positive for the virus with this testing which are continung now.

The ship’s captain announced over the ship’s PA system to all of the Jewel of the Seas crew members that during the transatlantic voyage to the U.S., certain areas of the ship would be closed and certain crew activities would be cancelled due to new COVID-19 cases. The captain also sent a message to the crew stating that:

  • “Due to C+ cases onboard we will need to shut down a few areas as a precaution:
  • For now the Pools and Jacuzzi’s together with the Sports Court and finally the Crew Gym will not be available.
  • If you wish to utilize the gym, then only the guest gym will be available, and while in the gym the mask will have to be worn at all times together with keeping the Physical distance.
  • Please I urge you all to do your part in keeping the ship safe and healthy.
  • Remember to wear you mask! And to wear it properly!
  • Keep the Physical distance (also while enjoying your meals in the Windjammer).
  • Wash and sanitize your hands frequently.
  • Please share this information with your teams!”

It remains likely that when the Jewel arrives in Miami, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will place either an orange or yellow color designation for the ship given the fact that there are crew on the ship who are under quarantine for COVID-19.

Currently there are 1,020 crew and temporary contractors onboard the ship (there. There are no guests. Upon arrival in Miami, it is expected that approximately 300 crew members will be transferred to some other Royal Caribbean cruise ships, with around 800 crew members remaining  on the Jewel.

This additional information comes from a trusted, knowlegeable and reliable crew member on the Jewel of the Seas who wishes to remain anonymous and remain employed by Royal Caribbean.

Two days ago, there was a Code BRAVO announcement on this ship after smoke came from a lower deck, caused by a chemical reaction. The crew member informed us that “There were no flames. The compartment was isolated and cooled down by spraying water over the surrounding walls. There was nothing serious.”  Cruise blogger CruiseMiss initially reported the incident on her Facebook page.

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*/November 12, 2021 Update: The TERABio breathing tests revealed a total of four additional crew members now positive with COIVD-19, bringing total number of crew members to eight: one medical secretary, one marine administrative assistant, one security guard and one facility cleaner.

Photo credits: Jewel of the Seas Greel Isles –  Royal Caribbean Press Center (top); Royal Caribbean Press Release (middle); Map of Jewel of the Seas – (bottom) – MarineTraffic

The Jewel of the Seas just ended its summer season sailing out of Cyprus with more disappointing COVID-19 test results. Thirteen people (nine guests and four crew members) tested positive for the virus at the end of last week. This is in addition to the fifty passengers on this cruise ship who tested positive in the prior thity day period, as we reported on October 23, 2021.

This information comes from a trusted and knowlegeable crew member on the Jewel of the Seas who wishes to remain anonymous and remain employed by Royal Caribbean.

Earlier last week, a family of four on the ship was the subject of discussions betwen ship management and port authroties in one of the ports of call, Chania, after three of the family members tested positive for COVID-19. The mother and two of the couple’s minor children tested positive (the father was considered to be a close contact). The ship ordered the family, which were staying in two staterooms, into isolation. The initial plans were for the family to be disembarked in the port in Chania (in Crete, Greece). The Greek authorities nixed the plan to send them ashore and the family remained in isolation until the ship returned to the home port in Limassol.

In addition to these three positive guests, six additional passengers tested positive for COVID-19.  In addition to these nine guests, four crew members tested positive for COVID-19 as well.

The guests who tested positive were taken by ambulance to villas in Limassol where they will be expected to remain in isolation.

The Jewel of the Seas is now sailing across the Mediteranean Sea to Gibraltar before begining its voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to Miami where it is scheduled to arrive on November 14th and then sail on a five-day Western Caribbean cruise on November 15th.

It is anticipated that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prvention (CDC) will designate the ship as falling under either yellow or orange color codes given the fact that the ship has rountinely experienced anywhere from a few to over twently positive COVID-19 cases per cruise for the past two months,

As of today’s date, there are at least six Royal Caribbean-operated cruise ships (the Allure of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas) which the CDC is either currently monitoring or investigating COVID-19 outbreaks.

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Image credit: Top and bottom – Jewel of the SeasRoyal Caribbean Press Center

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require cruise lines sailing from U.S ports to continue to follow the CDC’s protocols for COVID-19 on ships subject to its jurisdiction through January 15, 2022. The agency’s conditional sailing order (CSO) was set to expire this weekend, on November 1, 2021, but was just extended to January 15, 2022. After January 15th, if the CDC does not again extend the CSO, cruise lines will be permitted to voluntary follow their own policies to detect and control the spread of COVID-19 on their ships.

The CDC stated that when cruise lines began resuming “revenue voyages” from the U.S. in the last four months, between June 26 – October 21, 2021, there were 1,359 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 on cruise ships reported to the CDC. You can read the order (total at page 20) here.

COVID-19 Remains A Problem on Cruise Ships Despite High Vaccination Rates 

The resumption of cruises in the U.S. has led to the “introduction and sustained transmission of COVID-19” among cruise ships, despite high vaccination rates among both crew and passengers.

It does not appear that COVID-19 cases where guests disembarked the cruise ship and then tested positive were  included in this total, even where the guest was exposed to COVID-19 during the cruise and likely contracted the disease there.

The CDC did not state any details regarding COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships sailing from U.S. waters. For example, the federal health agency did not disclose the name of a single cruise line or cruise ship whatsoever.

Cruise Passengers Remain in the Dark

Cruise lines, of course, never disclose to the public when their guests or crew members are infected, unless there is information first released by the media. Foreign health agencies sometimes publish news article about outbreaks. The health department in Belize, for example, disclosed the number of infected crew members following a significant COVID-19 outbreak on the Carnival Vista earlier this summer.

Cruise lines like Carnival will never disclose when a passenger dies due to COVID-10. Nor will the cruise lines admit when there are repeated virus outbreaks on consecutive cruises.

A Slew of Large COVID-19 Outbreaks

The CDC, in its order extending the conditional sailing order until next year, highlighted what it described as “several large outbreaks” on cruise ships:

  • 21 infected – on July 24, 2021, one symptomatic passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 on a cruise ship (Cruise Ship A) was epidemiologically linked to 20 additional COVID-19 cases over two voyages, including 2 passengers and 18 crew.
  • 58 infected – between July 24 – August 28, a cruise ship (Cruise Ship B) reported 58 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among passengers and crew.
  • 13 infected – between July 29 – 31, 2021, three symptomatic passengers tested positive for COVID-19 on a cruise ship (Cruise Ship C).  Contact tracing and testing identified an additional 12 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 10 passengers and 2 crew.
  • 7 infected – between July 26 – August 6, a cruise ship (Cruise Ship D) reported 7 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among passengers and crew.
  • 105 infected – between August 19 – September 7, a cruise ship (Cruise Ship E) reported 105 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among passengers and crew on a total of four consecutive voyages.
  • 112 infected – between August 21 – September 7, a cruise ship (Cruise Ship F) reported a total of 112 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among passengers and crew on four consecutive voyages

Other than a brief mention of the above referenced 315 COVID-19 cases, the CDC did not mention any of the other over 1,000 positive COVID-19 shipboard cases.

Most Positive Virus Case Involve “Breakthrough Infections” of Vaccinated Passengers and Crew

The COVID-19 vaccination rates on all of these unnamed ships were at or very near to 100% for crew and between 96.4% and 100% for passengers. Some of the cases apparently involved unvaccinated children, but the majority involve fully vaccinated adults.

Dozens of Medevacs and Hospitalizations Involving Cruise Ship Guests & Crew Due to COVID-19

The CDC also mentioned that cruise lines reported that the COVID-19 cases resulted in a number of hospitalizations (49) and medical evacuations from the ships (28).

Other than one passing reference to the death of a passengers who died of COVID-19, the CDC did not mention how many passengers and crew members on ships sailing into U.S. waters have died due to COVID-19. This summer we reported on at least recent one crew member and one guest who sailed on Carnival ships who died from the dangerous virus.

We have reported on cruise passengers who have required life-saving emergency medical treatment when developing COVID-19 symptoms while cruising. Usually the source of our information is the foreign press. See for example – Cruise Passenger in “Bad Shape” in Hospital in Belize.

The MSC Virtuosa – An Example of a Cruise Ship Not Subject to the CDC

There were several deaths of guests on the MSC Virtuosa, sailing this summer from the U.K., in a series of consecutive cruises where over at least 200 passengers and over 50 crew members were infected.  MSC Cruises reportedly overcrowded this new cruise ship and did not enforce mask protocls and social distancing procedures.

The MSC Virtuosa was not under the jurisdiction of the CDC because it did not sail from U.S. ports or in U.S. waters during these cruises. It is a good example of what would happen if the U.S. federal health agency does not oversee the health and safety of foreign flagged cruise ships and cruise lines become free to ignore their own mask and social distancing protocols.

How Do Consumers Make Informed Decisions Regarding the Risk of Infection on a Particular Cruise Ship When Neither the Cruise Line Nor the CDC are Being Transparent?

A follower of our Cruise Law News Facebook page left the following comment:

“I do wish there was more transparency. I would like to know, for each cruise taken, how many people were on board, if there were any cases and how many, and what was the vaccination rate. Then people can make their own assessment of the risk. For some people these cases seem to be an acceptable amount but not for others.”

There are significan differences between Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and NCL regarding their COVID-19 protocols and their general attitudes toward the health and safety of their guests and crew. But, currently, it is not possible to calculate the per capita rate of contracting COVID-19 on one ship or one cruise brand versus another. This is largely because cruise line go out of their way to conceal the true information when a COVID-19 outbreak occurs on their ships.

I would suggest that, as a general matter, taking a voluntary leisure cruise during a deadly pandemic remains dangerous and foolhardy.

But for those looking to minimize the risk of contracting this disease, here are a few recomendation I have to offer:

  • Become vaccinated (and learn which vaccines have the highest efficacy rates);
  • Observe all CDC masking and social distancing protocols;
  • Avoid cruise lines and cruise ships which operate at full or high capacity;
  • Avoid cruise ships that have not upgraded their ventilation and air conditioning systems and installed high quality HEPA filters;
  • Avoid internal cabins without balconies (book only cabins with balconies);
  • Avoid cruise ships which allow unvaccinated passengers (including children) aboard;
  • Avoid iteneraries which call on ports of call with low vaccination rates;
  • Avoid cruise lines (like Carnival Cruise Line) with a history of guests mocking people who wear masks (for example, read Carnival Panorama: The Latest “Fun” Ship With COVID-19 Aboard).

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Image credit: Top – Carnival Vista – Gordon Leggett / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia via “Carnival Cruise Line Admits Positive COVID-19 Cases Aboard Carnival Vista, But Refuses to State Number of Guests Infected;” middle – Carnival Vista – Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images via CNN; bottom – MSC Virtuosa – Phil Nash Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 & GFDLViews.

This morning the Jewel of the Seas returned to the ship’s home port of Limassol, Cyprus after a one week cruise around the Greek Isles. Yesterday, the ship conducted a routine test for the COVID-19 virus of all of the 1,100 or so guests on the ship. According to a crew member on the cruise ship who wishes to continue to remain anonymous, eleven passengers tested positive for the virus.

In addition to these guests, the whole team (nine) of the ship’s dancers are under quarantine on board.

In the last thirty days, we have learned that there have been a total of around fifty positive COVID-19 cases of passengers on this same cruise ship. More specifically, on the cruise which departed from Limassol on September 25th, we reported that there was a total of twenty-one cases involving guests on the Royal Caribbean ship.

On October 2nd, we reported that there were twelve guests who tested positive on the next cruise on the Jewel.

There have been at least a handful of positive cases involving guests on each cruise on this ship this summer. The total does not include the number of crew members who tested positive for the virus over the past month.

Royal Caribbean is continuing to take aggressive steps to try and reduce the number of COVID-19 cases involving its crew members and guests on this ship after experiencing a higher than normal number of positive virus cases in the last several weeks.

Eighty percent of guests on the ship have  been from UK which is still experiencing a high number of COVID-19 outbreaks. BBC News recently published an article titled Covid: Why are UK cases so high? which explained that COVID-19 cases in the U.K. have soared to to more than 50,000 cases a day, although it is less likely that the infected will end up in the hospital or die.

The Jewel of the Seas will be re-positioned in mid-November to South Florida where it will be sailing  on a Western Caribbean itinerary of cruises from five to ten days long. The ship will sail from Miami until mid-May of 2022 when it will be repositioned and sail from Amsterdam. The company obviously wishes to reduce the number of positive virus cases it has been experiencing before it begins sailing out of U.S. waters where it will fall within the jurisdiction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There have been a number of sailings of Royal Caribbean crusie ships where at least a dozen or more passengers and crew became infected with COVID-19. Ten days ago, we reported that fifteen crew members on the Allure of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19.

Two days ago, a crew member on Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas tested positive after several tests. The ship wa scheduled to depart from Hong Kong but the local health department intervened and prohibited the ship from leaving port. Several thousands of guests had to depart the ship and the cruise was cancelled.

Royal Caribbean, like most cruise lines, does not voluntarily disclose the number of guests and crew members who are infected during cruises on its ships, althought this basic information is vital to understanding the risk of infection which a consumer encounters while cruising.

This afternoon the Jewel of the Seas set sail with approximately 1,200 guests on another week-long cruise around the Greek Isles.

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October 26, 2021 Update: A guest on the Jewel of the Seas commented on Twitter that he was “extremely disappointed with the standard of entertainment on Jewel of the Seas this week” and that Royal Caribbean had the “audacity to show a movie in the theatre . . . ” It appears that the quarantine of the ship’s dancers is having an effect on the type of entertainment which the ship is able to offer its guests?

Image credit: Jewel of the Seas – Royal Caribbean

Yesterday, a British court ordered MSC Cruises to pay damages to Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection caused by the MSC Opera cruise ship when it crashed into the River Countess riverboat in Venice in June 2019.

In the first two paragraphs of the order of the High Court of England and Wales (which you can read here), the court explained that:

“On 2 June 2019, the ocean-going cruise liner MSC Opera, operated by the defendant demise charterer, ran into the much smaller inland cruise ship River Countess, which was berthed at the San Basilio Pier in the Giudecca Canal in Venice. The incident attracted global media attention and fuelled an existing controversy over the use of Venetian waters by large cruise ships.

Mercifully, though 28 of the smaller ship’s passengers were still on board or in the process of disembarking, River Countess just completed a six day cruise, there were only a few personal injuries, none serious. River Countess suffered substantial damage. . . ” 

At the time, there were a number of videos on Instagram and YouTube of the frightening spectacle:

Another post on Instagram contained these captions:

“A 65,000-ton cruise ship blared an urgent horn as it made a beeline toward a busy Venetian dock, sending panicked onlookers running for safety.”

Video showed the moment the 2,100-passenger MSC Opera slammed into the wharf in the San Basilio Terminal on the Giudecca Canal. “A deep thud and then the sound of shattering glass could be heard as the vessel scrapped along the quay and passersby shouted instructions to flee the rogue cruise ship.”

Travel Weekly reported:

Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge said that the company had filed the lawsuit after extensive conversations with MSC proved unproductive. Bettridge said that due to the “severe damage to our ship, we were forced to cancel 14 voyages, frustrating our guests and travel partners during the peak summer season.”

While MSC agreed to cover the physical losses, the company argued that under Italian law, it should not have to compensate Uniworld for loss of earnings. Uniworld had to repair the River Countess and refund and compensate 1,600 customers whose trips were canceled. It also paid compensation, hospital bills and repatriation costs for injured passengers, the law firm said.

The High Court of England and Wales said that MSC Cruise Management Limited has to pay Uniworld 2.4 million euros for physical losses along with what could be more than 7.5 million euros in “non-physical losses,” according to Devonshires, the British law firm representing Uniworld.

After the award was announced, cruise friendly members of the media posted articles trying to downplay the court decision.

Cruise shill Doug Parker a/k/a Cruise Radio falsely wrote that the MSC Operasustained scratches but no hull damage.”

In truth, the court actually ruled that the MSC ship suffered “substantial damage.” The damaged ship was removed to Trieste for repairs that took three months and cost over “€3 million returning to service in early September 2019 after a loss of 14 scheduled cruises.”

Stewat Chiron a/k/a Cruise Guy went to Twitter to proclaim that large cruise ships could safely operate in Venice; he criticized the comments of Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge who said: “For years, the city of Venice has been plagued by massive ocean cruise liners being able to dock in the historic city, causing an eyesore to its beauty. It took an incident of this nature to bring about change.”

There is no question that this incident was used by those individuals concerned with the effect of large cruise ships on Venice to protest and ask for a much-needed ban of such ships. Posters associated with the “NoGrandiNavi“movement contained images of the runaway cruise ship with its horns blaring as it smashed into the smaller vessel (photo, top).

Videos of the huge, out-of-control cruise ship, smashing into the dock and knocking tourists from the little ship in front of it into the water, looked like an attack-of-the-aliens science fiction movie.  But this was no low budget movie. It was exactly what many local Venetians predicted would happen given the presence of huge cruise ships sailing in the Giudecca canal next to the ancient city of Venice.

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Video – MSC Opera – Beppe Caccia.

Fifteen (15) crew members on the Allure of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The crew members and an undetermined number of close contacts were required to quarantine on the ship.

This inside information was provided from a Royal Caribbean crew member on this ship who prefers to remain anonymous.

This Royal Caribbean cruise ship which departed from Port Canaveral on Monday, is currently sailing on a “Western Caribbean Perfect Day itinerary.

Royal Caribbean requires its crew members on this ship to be fully vaccinated. This is another example of “breakthrough infections’ of already vaccinated crew members which has occured regularly on cruise ships lately.

The Allure of the Seas had her 2-night test cruise conducted on July 27th. The Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailed on her first revenue cruise, since the industry stopped sailing in March 2010, on August 8th. The ship has been sailing with passengers for a little over two months from Port Canaveral since then.

The color tracking system conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the Allure has been under the color yellow for the past several weeks. The yellow warning means that the CDC has investigated the presence of COVID-19 and the cruise ship “remains under observation.”

Some anti-vaxxers point to breakthrough infections of vaccinated individuals to suggest that vaccines are not effective. But the truth is that vaccinations are largely effective at preventing serious symptoms, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19.

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Image credit: Allure of the Seas – top – Jorge in Brazil – common / wikimedia via Flickr; bottom –  Yanjipy – CC BY-SA 4.0 commons / wikimedia.

Four crew members on the Jewel of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The Royal Caribbean cruise ship is currently sailing on an  itinerary around the Greek islands.

Last week, we reported that three crew members on the Jewel of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19.

This information, as well as our prior reports of COVID outbreaks on this particular cruise ship, are provided by an inside source of information (a reliable crew member who wishes to continue to remain anonymous).

Royal Caribbean requires its ship employees to be fully vaccinated. Most of the crew are vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Royal Caribbean is continuing to take aggressive steps to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases involving its crew members and guests on this ship after experiencing a higher than normal number of positive virus cases in the last several weeks.

The ship will be re-positioned to South Florida in mid-November where it will be sailing from Miami on a Western caribbean itinerary of cruises from five to ten days long. The ship will sail from Miami until mid-May of 2022 when it will then sail from Amsterdam. The company wishes to reduce the number of positive cases before it begins sailing out of U.S. waters where it will fall within the jurisdiction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the last month, we have learned that there were two one-week cruises involving a combined total of thirty-three positive COVID-19 cases. More specifically, on September 29th, we reported that there was a total of twenty-one cases involving guests on the ship a week earlier. Most recently (October 2nd), there were twelve guests who tested positive on the Jewel.

Five guests on the Jewel of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19, as we reported on September 18th.

The local media in Cyprus reported on prior COVID-19 cases on this ship. On August 9th, KNEWS in Cyprus reported that “six passengers on a cruise had tested positive for Covid, four vaccinated – three of them asymptomatic and one with mild symptoms- while two were unvaccinated minors.” On July 21st, KNEWS also reported that “two guests tested positive for Covid-19.”

In total, based on the local press and information from knowledgeable crew members on the ship, there have been at least fifty (50) guests and crew members who have tested positive for COVID-19 on the Jewel of the Seas in the last nine weeks. There are likely more cases than this, as there are at least a few positive crew members and guest COVID-19 cases during each and every cruise.

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Image credit: Jewel of the Seas – Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.

Three crew members on the Jewel of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19 this week.  I received this additional information from a trusted crew member who wishes to continue to remain anonymous.  The infected crew members, which include the hotel maintenance manager, a cook and one stateroom attendant, were confirmed positive for the virus after PCR  testing. They were then sent into isolation.

Royal Caribbean is taking aggressive steps to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases involving its crew members and guests after experiencing a higher than normal number of positive virus cases in the last two weeks.

The ship will be re-positioned to South Florida in mid-November where it will be sailing from Miami on a Western caribbean itinerary of cruises from five to ten days long. The ship will sail from Miami until mid-May when it will then sail from Amsterdam. The company wishes to reduce the number of positive cases before it begins sailing out of U.S. waters where it will fall within the jurisdiction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the last month, we have learned that there were two one-week cruises involving a combined total of thirty-three positive COVID-19 cases. More specifically, on September 29th, we reported that there was a total of twenty-one cases involving guests on the ship a week earlier. Most recently (October 2nd), there were twelve guests who tested positive on the Jewel.

Five guests on the Jewel of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19, as we reported on September 18th.

The local media in Cyprus reported on prior COVID-19 cases on this ship. On August 9th, KNEWS in Cyprus reported that “six passengers on a cruise had tested positive for Covid, four vaccinated – three of them asymptomatic and one with mild symptoms- while two were unvaccinated minors.” On July 21st, KNEWS also reported that “two guests tested positive for Covid-19.”

In total, based on the local press and information from knowledgeable crew members on the ship, there have been at least forty-six (46) guests and crew members who have tested positive for COVID-19 on the Jewel of the Seas in the last two months. There are likely more cases than this, as there are at least a few positive crew members and guest COVID-19 cases during each and every cruise.

Royal Caribbean, of course, is one of several cruise lines which does not voluntarily release such information to the public.

Royal Caribbean has taken the following steps to reduce the number of positive COVID-19 cases during its latest cruise on the Jewel; 

  • All crew tours and crew “shore excursion observer programs” are cancelled. (Crew observer programs involve the use of crew members as escorts to monitor guest behavior during shore excursions);
  • Crew bar is closed;
  • All meetings in interior rooms are canceled; and
  • Santorini sail away party (for guests) is cancelled.

Unfortunately, there are essentially only two ways to obtain realistic information regarding the number of COVID-19 cases on cruise ships. “Whistle-blower” crew members who release data directly to us, despite facing the the risk of being terminated from their employment, are one reliable source of information. Employees of port authorities, who also face the same risk, are an equally important source. The second source are local newspapers, which sometimes also use unnamed sources.

In a video recently posted to YouTube, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain said his company (which includes Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea) has experienced only a minimum number of positive COVID-19 cases. CEO Fain claimed: “We’ve carried over half-a-million guests, and only had 141 cases among those 500,000 people.”

Its hard to believe that such statistics are accurate when the Jewel of the Seas alone experienced at least forty-six guests who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two months alone.  Royal Caribbean has historically shown that it is far more transparent than most cruise lines, particularly companies like Carnival or MSC Cruises, but it seems that it too may be caught up in the “everything is okay” hype associated in last week’s Seatrade Cruise Global conference.

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Image credit: Jewel of the Seas – top – Jemingway CC BY SA 2.0 via Flickr ; bottom – User:Dave Souza – CC BY-SA 2.5 commons / wikimedia.

Today, a popular video blogger, Gary Bembridge, mentioned cases of COVID-19 which are apparently on the Seabourn Ovation cruise ship which he is sailing on. The exact number of positive COVID cases are currently unknown. It is quite common for most cruise ships sailing today to experience breakthrough infections from a few to a dozen caases per cruise.

The Seabourn Ovation is currently sailing to a port in Cyprus. The cruise ship is currently on a two week cruise around the Greek Isles after leaving Piraeus, Greece on September 25, 2021.

Seabourn requires its guests to be vaccinated. Guests are required to have a negative PCR test at least three days before the cruise and a negative antigen test at the cruise terminal right before the cruise.

The company encourages Seabourn-organized shore excursions but permits its guests to go on independent shore excusions. It appears that guests left the cruise ship on excursions which were not under the control or protocols of Seabourn.  A copy of the company’s COVID protocols are here and here.

Seabourne is not the only cruise line sailing in the Agean Sea which is experiencing guests with breakthrough COVID infections. This weekend, we reported that in the last two weeks alone, Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas has at least thirty-three guests who have had breakthrough COVID infections. There were also positive COVID cases of six guests and two guests on prior cruises earlier this summer.

We reached out to Carnival, which owns this cruise ship, but have not received a response.

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Image credits: Kahvilokki – CC BY-SA 4.0 commons / wikimedia.