Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao cancelled ship visits in the last week for Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line ships, now Allure of the Seas has been forced to cancel to St. Thomas and St. Kitts. Increased awareness and fear of the spread of the Omicron variant seems to have all Caribbean islands on edge despite cruise lines having protocols and procedures to deal with any positive cases.
Allure of the Seas Denied at Caribbean Ports
Planning a cruise in the Caribbean seems more complicated now multiple Caribbean ports are entirely on edge regarding the new Omicron variant. Despite multiple reports, the variant seems milder in nature; Caribbean ports have been denying entry to multiple ships in the last two weeks.
Allure of the Seas was denied entry to St. Thomas on December 26, 2021, and the scheduled at St. Kitts on December 27 never took place. While Royal Caribbean has, so far, not made any statements on the number of cases on board, other vessels sailing in the area have had the same situation happen to them. In these cases, around 50 cases, or less than 1% of the people had been identified as positive.
The Oasis-class cruise ship is now making her way to Royal Caribbean’s private island resort of Perfect Day at CocoCay, which will be the final port of call before returning home.
She is scheduled to sail a 9-day voyage from Fort Lauderdale on December 30 with calls in Perfect Day at CocoCay, but also St. Thomas, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. The next voyage is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico, which has implemented strict entry requirements for all incoming cruise ship passengers.
Minimal Case Loads Onboard Cruise Ships
So far, the caseloads on cruise ships have been minimal, with no severe side effects, and typically asymptomatic cases. It even prompted the CEO of Royal Caribbean to publish a comment from the CDC on the Odyssey of the Seas investigation, which took place last week, on his Facebook page on Christmas eve:
“The CDC is investigating the recent increase in COVID-19 cases identified on Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) Odyssey of the Seas,” CDC spokesperson David Daigle told USA TODAY Thursday. “All cases appear to be mild or asymptomatic. Additionally, there have been no COVID-19 related hospitalizations, medical evacuations, ventilator use, or deaths from this ship.”
The denial of berthing in several Caribbean islands comes after several Caribbean Islands, such as St. Thomas, reported increased caseloads on the islands. Cruise ships seem to be the first to look at and cancel if they have COVID cases onboard as well.
Whether or not this course of action is beneficial to those same islands remains to be seen. Not only is Omicron proving to be less dangerous, but flights to those same Caribbean Islands from Florida also continue uninterrupted. A ship from Florida cannot dock, but an airplane from Florida can.
As this situation becomes clearer and more information on Omicron becomes available, it will likely continue to be a difficult time for ships such as Allure of the Seas. All this despite the extreme health and safety measures that have been taken onboard, and with caseloads of less than 1% onboard.