Royal Caribbean ship docks at Miami port with 48 cases of COVID, cruise line says

By Hanan Redwan Published on December 21, 2021
Royal Caribbean ship docks at Miami port with 48 cases of COVID, cruise line says


Forty-eight passengers and crew members tested positive for COVID-19 on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas ship, which docked at Port Miami on Saturday, the cruise company said.

The four dozen cases on the massive cruise ship, where vaccination was required for the vast majority of passengers 12 and over, are prompting worries and speculation that cruising may see a repeat of the disastrous spread of COVID-19 that occurred at the onset of the pandemic — and the subsequent shutdown of the industry for more than a year.

In a statement on Sunday, Miami-based Royal Caribbean said that each person who tested positive immediately went into quarantine. Six people who tested positive disembarked the ship mid-voyage and were transported home.

The ship that pulled into Miami the day before left port on Dec. 11 with 6,091 passengers and crew on board, 95% of whom were fully vaccinated. Of the 48 who tested positive for Covid-19, 98% were fully vaccinated. Royal Caribbean said in a statement that the passengers who tested positive were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.

However, passengers noted that was not the case. James Johnson and Connor O’Dell, an engaged couple who live in Orlando, were on Symphony of the Seas with a group of 12 family members. All members of their party were fully vaccinated. Johnson’s aunt started feeling very ill with a sore throat and an earache and later developed a strong cough. After testing positive for COVID-19, Johnson said she only received an oxygen and temperature check and were told that the medical staff was too overwhelmed to monitor her more closely.

The couple and the rest of their party, who had been in close contact with Johnson’s aunt and had gone to the ship’s crowded nightclub, said that they received conflicting information from Royal Caribbean about whether they needed to quarantine and that initially, they would not give them coronavirus tests.

We did our research and read their COVID policies; on their site, they say they have excellent testing capabilities; that’s why we thought it was safe to go,” Johnson continued. “They failed their safety standards.”

“I bought into the safety aspect,” added O’Dell, whose dad also tested positive and is now getting Regeneron anti-body therapy at his home in Tampa. “I was reading the literature they have online and thought, ‘how much safer can you get?’ Everyone’s vaccinated and has to get tested. And then you get on board and find yourself in the middle of the outbreak.”

The voyage that resulted in 48 positive cases of COVID-19 was a seven-night Caribbean itinerary leaving from Miami and visiting St. Maarten; St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands; and CocoCay, the cruise line’s private island in the Bahamas.

Hanan Redwan

Hanan Redwan

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