After Spectrum of the Seas just recently resumed operations from Hong Kong, Royal Caribbean was forced to cancel the October 21 sailing for the vessel. And developing from the initial cancellation of the single cruise, authorities have now blocked Spectrum of the Seas from sailing for 21 days.
Despite rigorous testing procedures, vaccine mandates, and extensive health and safety measures onboard, one crew member was initially found to be positive for COVID-19. on October 22, it became clear that the crew member had tested negative in subsequent tests performed in local hospitals.
Despite this, the Hong Kong government did not permit the cruise to go ahead after all. Spectrum of the Seas was scheduled to start operations in July but has seen numerous delays since then.
Cruise Cancelled on Government Orders
The start of operations for Spectrum of the Seas has not been smooth so far. After operations started on October 14, Royal Caribbean was forced by the Hong Kong Department of Health to cancel the October 21 sailing and suspend the ship from sailing for 21 days.
Spectrum of the Seas had been scheduled to sail a ‘Seacation,” where the vessel would be at sea close to port for four nights. The reason is an initial positive test for a crew member on board.
The crew member, who had been fully vaccinated, and had been infected with the disease before in July of this year, tested positive for COVID-19 with very low viral loads during routine tests onboard.
Royal Caribbean said in a letter sent to guests on the October 21 sailing, “During routine testing today, one crew member had a suspicious result and confined positive for COVID-19 asymptomatic case in the second test. This crew worked in the back office and had no contact with guests. All 1,250 crew members on Spectrum of the Seas have completed the required vaccination, passed PCR test and relevant health screening before boarding, and boarded the ship with negative results.”
The 40-year old was brought ashore for further tests. 1,000 out of 1,200 guests who had started boarding were told by the Captain that Royal Caribbean had cancelled the cruise, and all guests were to undergo compulsory testing.
In the letter, the cruise line continued to say, “The crew member who is asymptomatic was immediately quarantined and is being closely monitored by our medical team. According to the guideline of the HKSAR government, for your health and safety, Spectrum’s sailing on October 21 will be cancelled. All guests can get back home on your own. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience caused.”
As it stands now, it seems the crew member has tested negative in subsequent tests in a local hospital. The cancellation comes as Hong Kong experiences some of the strictest measures worldwide. The Chinese-ruled city has reported just over 12,300 cases and 213 deaths.
Spectrum of the Seas Faced Multiple Delays
Royal Caribbean will be wondering whether the choice to operate in Hong Kong has been a smart one, to begin with. The cruise line has had to delay the start of Spectrum of the Seas due to the strict measures in place in the city multiple times.
Originally scheduled to set sail on July 30, crew members were forced to undergo a 21-day quarantine inside the city before joining the ship. With an influx of returning students, a general lack of hotel rooms forced the cruise line to postpone cruises to October.
Further crew problems arose in September of this year, forcing Royal Caribbean to cancel cruises between October 5 and October 14. This came after the Hong Kong Government elevated restrictions and increased rules for passengers from Europe, North America, and Asia. It results in difficulty for crew members to travel to the vessel from their home countries.
Spectrum of the Seas operates four and three-night getaway cruises to nowhere out of Hong Kong. From January 12, 2022, the Quantum Ultra class cruise ship will begin offering international cruises with a call to Japan. The voyages to nowhere are available only to residents of Hong Kong who have been fully vaccinated.