Two passengers test positive Thursday but Royal Caribbean pushing on

By MyVue Staff Writer

Basseterre, Friday, 11th June 2021, (MyVue though two of its passengers tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, 10th June, 2021, Royal Caribbean Group and Carnival Corp, made it clear on Friday, that they are not changing their plans and will continue their season of cruising.

The two cases were confirmed on board Celebrity Millennium, which sailed out of St. Maarten last Saturday, 5th June, 2021. The cruise is booked for seven days and is due to end today, Friday, 11th June.

The policy in place from Celebrity Millennium states that “All guests 16 years and older must be fully vaccinated with all COVID-19 vaccine doses administered at least 14 days prior to sailing. As of August 1, 2021, all guests age 12 and older must be fully vaccinated.”

They said that the guests were asymptomatic, shared the same cabin, and have since been placed into isolation.

Contact tracing and testing were also instituted, as the onboard medical team monitored the patients.

Not many onboard the vessel seemed daunted by the two cases because sources have confirmed that the entertainment and dining continued and hardly anyone was wearing a mask.

The decision to push ahead may also be guided by the need to protect their business interests, remembering the huge losses last year and that public confidence is critical if the sector is to rebound.

Once the cases on Thursday became known publicly, shares in Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corp, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, immediately dropped 1% and two percent.

It has been a tough balance to strike, as efforts are made to protect lives while also seeking to keep a billion-dollar industry afloat.

Not only are islands and ports in the Caribbean, including St. Kitts, eager to see the return of cruise passengers, so too are the cruise lines itching to return to the pre-COVID-19 sailings and visits that generated billions in revenue, both onshore and offshore.

These 2 cases have again placed the spotlight on the debate about mandatory vaccination. However, the Governor of Florida, where most cruises to the Caribbean originate, Ron De Santis, is insisting that such demands will not be permitted.

Much of Florida’s revenue comes from the sector but De Santis has approved legislation that could see, from next month, cruise lines being fined up to US$5,000 per passenger, if they force passengers to show proof of vaccination.

Similar fines apply to other areas of business in Florida.

The governor wants to have his cake and eat it too. His state badly needs the taxes and other revenue spinoffs but he is also blocking the cruise lines from executing a plan that they feel would be safer and have the confidence of customers.

The sector could find itself without ports of call if high numbers of cases are present on the ships travelling into Caribbean destinations.

If no agreement is reached, the ships may opt to use new facilities in other nearby states, so that they remain compliant with COVID-19 protocols in the partnering Caribbean territories.

When the ship sailed from St. Maarten last week, all passengers were required to show proof that they were vaccinated and were also required to show that they had tested negative (RT-PCR test).

Sailings from the US mainland are not expected to begin until 1st July, this year. In the meantime, Caribbean destinations are being used as temporary ‘home ports’.

St. Kitts remains on track to get its first vessel in July, even though some expectations are there for a visit in June.

In recent weeks, the Port Authority has been trying to get all employees and stakeholders, fully vaccinated, in time for the resumption of cruise tourism. However, they have met resistance, even though the port’s management explained that it wants to protect all groups from any possible chances of being infected by incoming passengers.

The vaccine, said the Port Authority, in Basseterre, provides that added layer of protection from death, severe illness or hospitalization, and reduces the chances of becoming infected.

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