Multiple sources are reporting that eight crew members employed by Royal Caribbean Cruises aboard the Odyssey of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19. According to a press release from the cruise line,  the crew members tested positive on June 10, 2021, six days after the ship arrived in the U.S. after sailing from Israel. Media reports indicate that Royal Caribbean states that two employees were symptomatic, with what the cruise company describes as “mild symptoms.”

Previously, as the Odyssey of the Seas was sailing through the Mediterranean Sea, as many as five crew members tested positive for COVID-19 (Royal Caribbean claimed that only four crew members tested positive for the virus). At the time of the news, the cruise ship was anchored off the coast at Majorca Bay, Mallorca, Spain. A Spanish newspaper carried the headline styled “Five Positive Crew Members of the ‘Odyssey of the Seas’ are Transferred to Clinic in Palma” On May 24, 2021, Royal Caribbean  disembarked the crew members in question in Palma de Majorca where they will went quarantine at a private clinic. The Spanish newspaper’s Twitter feed stated that Royal Caribbean had left them on the island and tracking services showed the Odyssey sailing toward Gibraltar.

We reported on this incident last month. For reason not clear to us, none of the other news sources are mentioning the previous five crew members from this ship who tested positive just seventeen earlier.

The new Royal Caribbean cruise ship had previously been sent to Israel to begin cruises from that country. However, in mid-May, the cruise line cancelled cruises from Haifa, Israel, ostensibly because of violence between Israel and Palestinians.

Royal Caribbean initially intended to have its crew on the Odyssey vaccinated while the ship was in Israel, although the Israeli press reported in April that this was never approved even though the planned cruises from Haifa were imminent. The Odyssey then sailed to Cyprus where there was a crew transfer of unvaccinated crew. My opinion remains that taking a leisure cruise during a pandemic is dangerous, and that this cruise line has delayed taking appropriate steps to protect its crew members and future guests from becoming infected and risks spreading the virus into Caribbean port communities.

Regarding the most recent outbreak, Royal Caribbean stated that the eight crew members arrived in the U.S. on the ship on June 4, 2021. At the time, 1,400 crew on board received COVID tests which apparently were negative. Subsequently, they crew members were vaccinated. The crew were tested again and tested positive on June 10, six  days after the cruise ship arrived in the U.S. after sailing from Israel.

The positive COVID-19 test has caused Royal Caribbean to delay the first revenue cruise from July 3rd to July 31st, according to Seatrade Cruise News.

This brings the total number of positive COVID-19 cases since the cruise industry was shut down last year to 233. You can read about the prior cases here.

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Photo credit: Main photo – Royal Caribbean via USA Today; top – Royal Caribbean via Travel Pulse.