Royal Caribbean postpones debut of new cruise ship after COVID-19 outbreak

Jun 16, 2021

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Royal Caribbean has cancelled the first four sailings of its newest cruise ship due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the vessel’s crew.

The world’s largest cruise line late Tuesday 15 June said the ship — the 4,198-passenger Odyssey of the Seas — would now debut on 31 July, four weeks later than planned.

In a statement sent to TPG, Royal Caribbean said eight crew members on Odyssey of the Seas had tested positive for COVID-19, all on 10 June. That was six days after the ship arrived in the U.S. from Europe in advance of its first sailing, which was scheduled for 3 July.

At the time the ship arrived in the U.S., none of its 1,400 crew members had been vaccinated for COVID-19. But they were vaccinated soon after the ship’s arrival.

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“All crew that tested positive are in good health and being monitored by our onboard medical team,” Royal Caribbean said in the statement.

There have been no further cases of COVID-19 discovered among the ship’s crew since 10 June, Royal Caribbean said. But the line said that all the crew on Odyssey of the Seas would remain in quarantine on the ship for 14 days in what the line called “an abundance of caution.”

Odyssey of the Seas is one of several ships that Royal Caribbean plans to operate in the coming months without a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for passengers.

“We are reaching out to affected guests and travel partners to assist with their options,” the line said in its statement. “This was an unexpected but necessary decision to make, and we are committed to doing the right thing for everyone’s well-being.”

Recently completed at a shipyard in Germany, Odyssey of the Seas is one of the world’s largest cruise ships.

While not quite as big as Royal Caribbean’s record-breaking Symphony of the Seas (the world’s largest cruise ship), the ship is designed to offer all the trappings of a major megaresort. It boasts multiple pool areas, a kiddie aqua park and such amusements as a sky-diving simulator, a surfing simulator and a bumper car pavilion. A something-for-everyone array of cabin classes on the ship range from tiny, 166-square-foot “interior” cabins without a window to massive, two-deck-high Royal Loft Suites that are nearly 10 times that size.

This isn’t the first delay to the debut of Odyssey of the Seas. The ship originally was scheduled to debut in 2020, but its construction was slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its completion date was rescheduled for 2021.

Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean announced that the ship’s first sailings would take place in Israel. But those plans were scrapped after violence erupted in the country earlier this year.

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Featured image of courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

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