At least ten crew members recently tested positive for COVID-19 on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas. There are also over three dozen employees under quarantine on these two cruise ships.

Independence of the Seas – Galveston

The Galveston County Daily News (subscription only) article, by John Wayne Ferguson), reported that “four crew members aboard Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Independence of the Seas have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than two dozen other crew members are in quarantine, according to the Galveston County Health District.”

The infected crew members caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change the status of the ship from “green” to “yellow” requiring tighter monitoring procedures.

This comes just 12 days before the Royal Caribbean cruise ship is supposed to embark on a safety-proving test cruise from the Port of Galveston.

The infected crew members all are asymptomatic, a local health representative in Galveston stated. The newspaper said that “it’s not clear whether the crew members were vaccinated.”

Royal Caribbean is scheduled to operate a safety-proving test cruise from Galveston on August 1st and announced it would soon begin selecting volunteers from the public to board the cruise. Royal Caribbean recently said that the change in status from green to yellow wouldn’t affect the August test cruise.

As of  Tuesday, the company still had permission to sail August 1st, according to the local health representative, who said “we’re just going to see how this plays out.”

The health representative in Galveston also concluded that “infections aren’t surprising because of strict monitoring of crew members, rising numbers of COVID-19 cases around the world because of the delta variant and the high number of unvaccinated people.”

The local health authorities stated that it has not confirmed whether COVID cases on the cruise ship were caused by the delta variant.

The CDC’s New Color Coded System

The newspaper explained the CDC’s new four color coded system as follows:

“Ships without any COVID cases are noted as green and have been given the go-ahead to sail with passengers or to make other preparations to begin their return. Ships listed as yellow or orange in the CDC system have reported COVID cases and are more closely monitored as they continue to make preparations. Ships with a red status aren’t allowed to sail.

. . . The CDC will begin an investigation if more than 1 percent of crew members report infections, according to the agency’s guidelines.”

The CDC’s four color coded system show that exactly half of Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships in U.S. waters have orange or yellow codes. The Allure of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas all have orange codes. The Freedom of the Seas and the Serenade of the Seas both have yellow codes and are under investigation by the CDC.

The Jewel of the Seas – Cyprus

Six crew members tested positive  for COVI-19 this week on the Jewel of the Seas, which is sailing from the island of Cyprus on  seven-night cruises calling at Piraeus, Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini until October of this year. At least 13 crew members are under quarantine.  Additional testing, using the PCR testing procedures, are taking place today.

This information is provided by a crew member on the ship who wishes to remain anonymous.

All crew members onboard (more then 800) are reportedly fully vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Two guests on the Jewel of the Seas recently tested positive, which we reported on July 17, 2021.

This cruise ship is currently operating outside of U.S. waters and the CDC’s jurisdiction. The CDC’s color coding system doe not apply in European waters, otherwise the Jewel of the Seas would be coded orange or perhaps yellow.

There is an absence of reporting outside of the U.S. so it is not unusual for there to be no local newspapers reporting on the COVID status of the Jewel of the Seas, unlike the Galveston newspaper’s excellent coverage of the COVID situation aboard the Independence of the Seas in Galveston. Royal Caribbean has contracts with the Port of Galveston and Galveston County Health District which are far more likely to confirm basic health information to a local reporter than a cruise company operating outside of U.S. waters without media inquiry.

If you are interested in monitoring the status of COVID on cruise ships operating in U.S. waters, check the CDC’s website on a frequent basis. Today, the CDC website showed that the Carnival Breeze, which sailed from Galveston, was under a orange code reflecting at least one positive COVID-19 case on the ship. The Carnival Miracle is also coded orange. Notably, the Carnival Conquest, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Horizon are all coded yellow and remain under investigation for COVID-19 cases.

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Image Credit: Independence of the Seas – kees torn –  CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia.