The launch of Royal Caribbean
's latest megaship, Odyssey of the Seas, has been delayed yet again after eight crew members tested positive for the coronavirus
during routine testing, putting yet another crimp in the cruise industry's efforts to recover from the pandemic
The ship's 1,400 crew members were vaccinated on June 4 but were not fully protected against the virus when eight crew members tested positive, according to the company.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, it typically takes two weeks after vaccination
to develop immunity to the virus.
The maiden voyage of the Odyssey of the Seas had been scheduled for July 3 out of Florida
, but has been pushed back to July 31 due to the cases, as has a simulation cruise scheduled for late June, according to the company.
“While disappointing, we believe this is the best decision for our crew and guests’ health
and well-being,” the company said in a statement.
Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean, announced less than a week ago that two of its passengers tested positive for COVID-19
on the industry's first North American cruise since the outbreak began.
According to the company, the positive cases occurred despite the fact that everyone on the ship, which was sailing at one-third of its capacity, was required to be fully vaccinated prior to travel
COVID-19 cases, which are infections in fully vaccinated people
, are rare but possible because no vaccine is 100% effective; however, those who are infected after being fully vaccinated have a better chance of being protected against serious illness, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci
, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preliminary data suggests that current vaccines
may be effective against some virus variants but less effective against others.
has mandated that cruise lines in the United States
take additional safety precautions in order to resume operations, including regular COVID-19 tests for crew members and certain passengers, as well as simulated cruises to test the ship operators' ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk.
This comes after the CDC issued a “no sail order” due to the pandemic in March 2020, and the CDC continues to advise people to avoid travel on cruise ships worldwide due to the high risk of virus transmission among people in close quarters.
Royal Caribbean has required all passengers ages 16 and older to be fully vaccinated if departing from a U.S. port other than Florida, with the exception of Florida, which is exempt due to the state's governor
prohibiting businesses and government entities from denying services to people who refuse to get vaccinated last month.
Despite this mandate, the cruise line has stated that it expects 90% of its passengers in Florida to be fully vaccinated prior to travel, with those who do not subjected to testing and additional health protocols at their own expense.