Several German newspapers are reporting that “two employees on the Odyssey of the Seas” have tested positive for COVID-19. The news of the coronavirus cases were reported by the Meyer Werft shipyard, not the owner (Royal Caribbean) of the new cruise ship. The “employees” were apparently hired by the shipyard (as opposed to crew members employed by Royal Caribbean), although this is not perfectly clear.

The shipyard states that the two positive tests were known last Wednesday, March 3rd, and were confirmed with PCR tests on Thursday, March 4th. The remaining 500 or so employees on the cruise ship are also currently not allowed to leave the ship. The port medical service in Bremerhaven has required the Royal Caribbean ship to remain in Bremerhaven for the time being, according to the NDR German news site.

The shipyard spokesman did  not say whether the infected employees were placed in quarantine on the ship or ashore. However, there have been no further infections so far. The employees are reportedly tested daily. The authorities in Germany are still in consultation regarding how to proceed. Stern reports that the port medical service is “currently investigating suspicious cases and contact persons on board.”

Last week, the Meyer Werft shipyard transferred the Odyssey of the Seas via tugs across the Ems River. The ship underwent its initial tests in the North Sea, after which it was repositioned to the port in Bremerhaven. The Odyssey is scheduled to leave to undertake additional “test drives.” The NDR site states that it is “unclear when it can take off for the planned test drives.” The shipyard is scheduled to deliver the Odyssey to Royal Caribbean next month.

Royal Caribbean states that it will start selling cruises on the Odyssey of the Seas out of Israel on March 9th. Royal Caribbean plans to start sailing in May from Israel with vaccinated passengers and crew, according to the Washington Post. There is no indication regarding the effect of the positive cases on the soon-to-be-scheduled cruises from Israel.

U.S. based cruise line have touted cruises from Europe and other locations outside of U.S. ports as safe and COVID-19 free. But the truth is that there have been over 200 passengers and crew members who tested positive for COVID-19 during European sailings since cruising was suspended from U.S. ports last year. The cases involved MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises, TUI Group/Mein Schiff, SeaDream, Hurtigruten and a number of smaller river cruise ships. (You can see a partial list here).

The last positive COVID-19 case on a cruise ship occurred two weeks ago on the MSC Grandiosa. The last outbreak during a cruise occurred last month on the Mein Schiff 2 cruise ship operated by the TUI Group, involving four guests.

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March 8. 2021 Update: According to the Jerusalem Post – in addition to the two cases of COVID-19 previously reported on the new ship, earlier last week “six shipyard workers were identified after a positive test and they were immediately quarantined land side.”

German newspapers, like this one and this one (reporting 5 additional cases), report today that there are five to seven additional people on the Odyssey who are infected.

Another newspaper stated that “there was confusion (today) about further corona infections on board the “Odyssey of the Seas” in Bremerhaven, the newest cruise ship from Meyer Werft. The Papenburg company has no knowledge of this, the city of Bremen is talking about seven new cases.”

Image credits: Odyssey of the Seas (top) – Oldih – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons/wikipedia; Odyssey of the Seas (middle – Royal Caribbean Group via Washington Post; Odyssey of the Seas –