The Jewel of the Seas faced a dilemna yesterday.  After starting the day with fifteen crew members and five guests testing positive for COVID-19, ten additional crewmembers later tested positive for the virus. This brought the number of infected crew members to a total of twenty-five. With five infected guests, the total number of infected people on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship increased to thirty, which is more than 1% of the ship’s population of 2,500 (consisting of 1,700 guests and 800 crew members).

Many Caribbean islands will not permit cruise ships to stop in their ports if more than 1% of the total ship population (passengers and crew) test positive for COVID-19.

Royal Caribbean faced the distinct prospect of being barred from making future ports of call. The company therefore made plans to avoid that spectacle by transferring a number of infected crew members from the Jewel to the Rhapsody of the Seas, which was at anchor off of St.Marteen where the Jewel called this morning.

This information has been provided by a knowledgeable crew member on the ship who wishes to remain anonymous and employed on the ship. The crew member has provided accurate COVID-19 about this ship’s guests and crew members since last July when the ship was sailing from Cyprus.  The crew member explained that the crew transfer was done “in order to reduce the number of COVID positive persons on board in order to be able to continue cruising and stopping at the next port of call.”

This particular situation has not yet been reported in the national media. But there are several cruise ships which have recently been denied permission to call at ports in the Caribbean.

In the last week as the Omicron variant soared and spread across the cruise ships, no less than six ports denied permission for cruise ships to dock. Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Thomas, Aruba, Puerto Vallarta, Cartagena & San Juan have all barred cruise ships from docking at their ports due to the presence of COVID-19 positive guests and passengers on ships operated by Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Holland America Line. A number of news sources have commented on the steps taken by ports in the Caribbean and Mexico to protect their residents from U.S. based cruise ships with infected people aboard.

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December 29, 2021 Afternoon Update: Here is the latest from the Jewel of the Seas: 10 more Royal Caribbean crew members tested positive for COVID-19. After quitely transferring 25 positive crew members to Rhapsody of the Seas (hospital / quarantine ship) earlier this week, the captain announced that the Jewel will stop in Coco Cay Bahamas before arriving back on Miami. The master didn’t announce why he was altering the planned itinerary. But knowledgeable crew say privately this was done with the plan of transfering 8 COVID19 positive crew members to the Vision of the Seas which this cruise line is using as another hospital / quarantine ship.

December 29 Evening Update: The number of infected crew member on the Jewel has increased from 10 to a total of at least 21. It remains to be seen how many infected crew members are ttrasfered to the Vision of the Seas.

Image credit: Jewel of the Seas (stock photo)Royal Caribbean Press Center (top); Royal Caribbean Press Release.