The Jewel of the Seas again is in our focus, as the Royal Caribbean cruise ship had another unusually high number of positive COVID-19 cases this week amongst its guests, according to a trusted crew member who wishes to remain anonymous. According to this crew member, yesterday twelve passengers tested positive for the virus using both antigen and PCR testing performed by Euofins Tesing Services. The crew member did not communicate any current information regarding the number of crew members who are currently infected with COVID-19.

Guests who tested positive for COVID-19 were transported by ambulances this morning, when the ship returned to its home port, to villas in Limassol for quarantine with insructions that they cannot fly home until and unless they test negaive for the virus. The ship again performed extensive sanitation for the incoming new passengers who boarded today.  The ship is sailing with a reduced guest capacity of around 1,100 guests.

There was a conference call between shoreside management in Miami and top shipboard managment this morning. Shoreside remains concerned with the relatively high number of COVID-19 cases on board the ship.  The ship still has four more cruises before making the upcoming transatlantic crossing to Miami.

One week ago there were twenty-one positive COVID-19 cases involving guests and two weeks before that there were five positive cases among the guests.

It is the policy of Royal Caribbean that guests ages 12 or older must be fully vaccinated in order to sail. All crew members are required to be vaccinated. Most crew members have received Astrazeneca injections.

The ship is currently departing from Limasoll, Cyrprus on a seven day cruise around the Greek Isles. Two guests were denied boarding earlier this morning after they tested positive per the PCR tesing at the terminal. Tomorrow the ship intends to test the occupants, of some twenty cabins on the ship, who took the same bus as the two infected guests.

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Image credit: Top – Royal Caribbean; bottom – Dave Souza –  CC BY-SA 2.5 commons /  wikimedia.

Twenty-one (21) guests aboard the Jewel of the Seas were positive after antigen testing last week, according to a trusted crew member on the ship, who wishes to stay anonymous. Five (5) guests were positive upon additional PCR testing.  Two guests were symptomatic and received treatment in the onboard medical facility. Four guests left the cruise ship via ambulances at the end of the cruise.

The tests were taken on Friday, September 24th, on the last day of the seven night cruise from Limassol, Cyprus around the Greek islands.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship carried around 1,100 passengers during the cruise.

The infected guests disembarked the ship in Limassol, Cyprus on Saturday, September 25th. On the same day, the ship departed on the next cruise to Rhodes Island, Greece. The ship was  in Mykonos on Monday and Piraeus yesterday, and is calling on Santorini Island today. The ship is reportedly at level MAX 1, which involves enhanced sanitizing during this cruise. It is scheduled to return to Limassol this weekend.

When infections occur on this particular itinerary, the cruise line is required to report the cases to health authorities in Cyprus. The theory is that the ship is required to be in compliance with EU public health standards.

All crew members are required to be vaccinated. Most crew members have received Astrazeneca injections.

It is the policy of Royal Caribbean that guests ages 12 or older must be fully vaccinated in order to sail.

This same cruise ship on a prior cruise two weeks ago had five guests who tested positive for COVID-19, as we reported on September 18th. These prior cases involved breakthrough infections as well. The crew member informed me that the twenty-one positive results represent a “record” number of cases for this ship. “Usually there are only 2 or 3 cabins with positive test results.”

Most cruise ships sailing today are experiencing some number of breakthrouh infections of vaccinated guests or crew members. There are many Royal Caribbean ships as well as literally dozens of other cruise ships which have experienced a relatively small number of positive cases (from a few to around eight or so).

Certain cruise lines, particularly Carnival and MSC Cruises, are consistently refusing to disclose the number of infected passengers and crew members on their ships. In my view, it is important to report whenever there are positive cases duting a cruise, particlarly when there is a significant outbreak. Families deserve 100% transparency in considering risks to their health and safety when deciding to travel.

Meanwhile, at the annual cruise trade association conference, Seatrade Cruise Global, the CEO’s of the major cruise lines are touting few problems related to COVID-19. Royal Caribbean’s CEO Rihard Fain even predicts that cruising will be back at 100% in just ninety days:

In truth, there are an increasing number of “super-spreader” cruises taking place, that the cruise lines are trying to cover-up, like on the Carnival Vista six weeks ago and, more recently, on the MSC Virtuosa over the course of the last several weeks. MSC Cruises has experienced over two hundred guests and crew members infected on the Virtuosa alone, including several guests who have died. This cruise line simply refuses to comunicate transparently with either the victims or the press.

Meanwhile, another Carnival cruise ship, the Carnival Miracle, experienced at least a dozen COVID-19 cases involving guests, including one respiratory-related death, following a recent cruise to and from Alaska. We will be reporting on this cruise in more detail shortly.

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Image Credit: Jewel of the Seas – Top – Jemingway CC BY SA 2.0 via Flickr; Jewel of the Seas – Middle – Dave Souza – CC BY-SA 2.5, commons / wikimedia.

Five guests are positive for COVID-19 on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas, (according to a reliable crew member (who wishes to remain anonymous) on the cruise ship and is familiar with the testing of passengers and crew members.

The infected guests were moved to what the crew calls the “red zone” for isolation onboard the cruise ship.

These passengers were disembarked today in Cyprus.

The COVID-19 tests on the Jewel are performed by a company called “Eurofins” which conducts the Antigen and PCR tests onboard. The crew member explained that Eurofins usually performs tests on crew members on days 2 and 3 of the week-long cruise. Guests are usually tested near the end of the cruise.

Virtually all cruise ships today are experiencing either some number of crew members who test positive or a handful of passengers who turn out to have the virus, notwithstanding the fact that they are already vaccinated. Certain cruise lines are consistently refusing to disclose the number of infected passengers and crew members on their ships.  A month ago, we published a short article titled Infected at Sea – The New Normal on Cruise Ships?  Of course, there is also an increasing number of “super-spreader” cruises taking place, that the cruise lines are trying to cover-up, like on the Carnival Vista last month and, more recently, on the MSC Virtuosa over the course of the last several weeks.

If these infections on the Jewel involve the highly contagious Delta variant, the R0 (pronounced “R naught”) (the mathematical term which indicates how contagious the infectious disease is) is as high as “7” or  “8.”  Each person infected is likely to infect 7 or 8 others. The virus on the Diamond Princess, in contrast, had a R0 of  only “2.”

The Jewel of the Seas departed from Limassol, Cyprus a week ago on September 11th. The Royal Caribbean ship visited ports in Greece including Rhodes Island, Mykonos Island, Piraeus, and Santorini Island. The ship returned to Cyprus today.

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Image credit: Jewel of the Seas – Top – Dave Souza – CC BY-SA 2.5, commons / wikimedia; bottom – Royal Caribbean.

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.

Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas finally started its inaugural cruise and revenue sailing from Limassol, Cyprus this past week.  The Jewel of the Seas will be sailing from Limassol until late October 2021, on  seven-night cruises calling at Piraeus, Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini.

According to the Financial Mirror, on Saturday the agency which operates the cruise terminal in Limassol “safely welcomed the crew and passengers” who boarded the Royal Caribbean cruse ship, “ensuring that personal protective measures and social distancing were strictly followed.”

Unfortunately, two guests tested positive for COIVD-19, according to crew members on the ship who wish to remain anonymous. The guests were reportedly isolated, and the cruise line is in the process of testing over a dozen people who were in close contact with the two infected guests who were assigned the same cabin. Eight crew members are reportedly in isolation, including the guests’ stateroom attendant and seven dining room employees as well.

There has not been a general announcement regarding the cases over the intercom on the ship yet. This is the typical method that cruise ships notify their guests of COVID cases. Yesterday, we reported that in the last week, there have been positive coronavirus cases on the Viking Sky, Viking Jupiter (Northern Europe), World Dream (Singapore), MSC Grandiosa (from Spain) and the American Constellation small cruise ship (Alaska). The World Cruise ended its cruise and returned to Singapore due to the single positive case. The America Constellation initially had three cases but contact tracing and additional testing revealed a total of ten infected guests and crew members.

Here in the U.S., COVID-19 cases are on the increase in all fifty states as the Delta variant continues to emerge. Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. caused by COVID-19 now involve people who decided not to be vaccinated. The Delta variant continues to pose a problem outside of the U.S. as well. There will be a steady stream of accounts of positive COVID-19 cases like this as more and more cruise line resume operations.

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July 18 2021 Update:

A.M. Post: Many people have asked whether the infected guests were vaccinated. I will try and see if this information is available.

The local media says that this inaugural cruise from Limassol was supposed to be for “for fully vaccinated crew and guests,” but the same article says “authorities in the Republic of Cyprus further require that non-vaccinated passengers aged 12-18 who are traveling with their families on the Jewel must show a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of arrival on the island.”

P.M. Post: I received this information from a crew member on the ship: “All the guests are vaccinated, those 2 individuals are from Israel, so they should have a good dose of Pfizer.”

Image Credit: Dave Souza – CC BY-SA 2.5, commons / wikimedia.

July 21 2021 Update: Today, a newspaper in Cyprus covered this article.

A crew member has gone overboard from the Jewel of the Seas, according to several crew members on the Royal Caribbean ship who wish to remain anonymous.

Yesterday, the captain of the ship made an announcement that after “search efforts and a thorough investigation” he was sorry to  share that a crew member by the first name of “Kristoff” (last name not mentioned) has “gone overboard.” The captain also announved that “local authorities had been informed and the family contacted and was being supported by the company’s care team.”

The crew member was employed on the ship as an electrician from Poland.

The Jewel of the Seas is currently south of Pireas, Greece.

The captain reminded the crew that the company provides counselling through its 24 hour confidential Employee Assistance Program.

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“It took more than 48 hours to realize the absence of the 27-year-old sailor, a member of the crew of the cruise ship Jewel of the Seas, which in recent days remains anchored in the sea area off Sounio, near the islet of Agios Georgios.

According to a relevant announcement of the Coast Guard, the 27-year-old was realized that he was not inside the above ship on Friday afternoon. A search of the ship’s closed-circuit camera, which had recorded him jumping into the sea in the early hours of Wednesday, followed.

After informing the Coast Guard, a large operation was launched to locate the 27-year-old, without any result so far.

Preliminary investigation into the incident is being carried out by the Central Port Authority of Lavrio.”

Image credit: Top – Jewel of the Seas – Dave Souza – CC BY-SA 2.5 commons / wikimedia; Whats App – anonymous; map – MarineTraffic.

A strike in San Juan today impacted cruise passengers on the Celebrity Summit and Jewel of the Seas. Departing passengers have been unable to retrieve their luggage and take taxis to the airport and arriving passengers have been delayed or unable to travel to the port due to the strikes.

Social media (Twitter and Facebook) has been abuzz with postings from cruise guests and their family members of travelers contacting the cruise line and air lines. As one travel agent commented, this apparently was not the first time that port operations were disrupted by a strike.

Several cruise passengers contacted us this afternoon seeking information about the strike.

The current strike involves an organized protest against governmental cuts of employee benefits in Puerto Rico. Strikes in the U.S. nowadays are relatively rare. Most strikes which affect cruise passengers occur in Europe (read Carnival Breeze to Cross Picket Line in Venice). Strikes by cruise line employees are not permitted by the cruise lines (read Carnival Fires 150 Crew Members from India for Protesting Low Cruise Ship Wages).

A number of people on Twitter were concerned about their parents’ ability to deal with the lack of services, whereas at least one cruiser expressed her understandable frustrations about getting home to man’s best friend.

Complicating matters as several thousand guests tried to handle their own baggage was that it began to rain earlier this morning.

In addition to the Celebrity Summit and the Jewel of the Seas, AIS programs show the Star Pride in port in San Juan. However, we have not received any comments from passengers on the Star Pride yet.

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Photo and video credit: Twitter; photo top – Emily Burns @ArizonaHorseGal.

Jewel of the SeasThe Daily Star reports that U.S. authorities in San Juan arrested seven people after finding 24 pounds (11 kilograms) of cocaine aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship just before it was to set to sail. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said today that a canine doing cabin inspections aboard the Jewel of the Seas found the drugs on Sunday.

Royal Caribbean says six of the arrested were U.S. male passengers. The identity of the seventh was not disclosed. 

Photo Credit:  Dave Souza Creative Commons BY-SA 2.5 / Wikipedia


A reader of Cruise Law News said that there was a small fire reportedly on Jewel of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean did not make an announcement about the fire. There was no air conditioning for five hours. 

One person left a comment on my Facebook page:

". . . .The fire was dealt with quickly, took about 9 hours to get all the resulting issues fixed and they arrived Jewel of the Seasin San Juan on time. There was a power outage on the day they left San Juan that lasted about 10 minutes. Said the fire was a result of a blown breaker. Another post from someone on the ship said 30 minutes after leaving Barbados a major breaker blew causing a fire in one of the stacks. The fire was quickly put out, but they had no air conditioning for 5 hours and no toilets for at least two. It was 3am before they started moving again. None of the announcements on board mentioned the fire, that there were enough passengers that witnessed it, and knew about it. They missed both the Thursday and Friday shows because of (the) issue."

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Photo Credit: Dave Souza Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

A reader of our blog informs us that Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas continues to infect cruise passengers with norovirus. 

The reader referred us to the Harwich and Manningtree Standard and Daily Gazette newspapers in Norwich U.K. which report that Royal Caribbean passengers continue to be struck by a highly-contagious virus for the second time in a month. The cruise line again delayed the departure a few hours yesterday so that they crew could try some extra cleaning to deal with the problem.

The reader commented:

"Obviously the last attempt didn’t work, so why should this? I would have expected that by now, the source and specific nature of the virus would have been found, thus allowing effective Cruise Ship Norovirus - Royal Caribbeantreatment to be carried out before the ship sails. However, since I have not heard otherwise, I assume it has sailed again last evening, with a new set of unsuspecting guests . . .  How can the port authority in Harwich allow this to happen?"

Royal Caribbean’s PR people crafted the following statement: "At Royal Caribbean International, we have high health standards for all our guests and crew."

We reported on the last norovirus outbreak on the Jewel of the Seas – Norovirus On Royal Caribbean’s Jewel Of The Seas?   45 passengers commented on the story and described poor food handling, cleaning, and medical procedures on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  

Have you sailed on the Jewel of the Seas recently?  How is the cruise line handling the situation? 

Please leave a comment below.