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First Royal Caribbean test cruise should begin today

In:
20Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

The first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to start test cruises is scheduled to set sail today.

Freedom of the Seas is in Miami to begin a short test cruise, which is a necessary step for revenue cruises to begin.

Royal Caribbean will have 100% of its crew members fully vaccinated on all its sailings.

Royal Caribbean announced a test cruise for Freedom of the Seas back in late May, and she will sail between June 20 - 22.

Simulated voyages (also known as test cruises) are when cruise lines can operate ships with volunteer passengers in order to prove their new protocols work.

These are not cruises you can book, but rather, are limited voyages where a cruise line invites certain unpaid volunteers to help go through all the necessary steps and procedures to ensure cruise ships can be run safely.

If all goes to plan, Freedom of the Seas is scheduled to begin revenue sailings from Miami on July 2, which would make her the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to restart revenue sailings from the United States.

Test cruise requirements

Test cruises come with a variety of requirements that must be completed in order to demonstrate the ship can be operated in a safe manner with the new health protocols

While the ship is indeed conducting a cruise as if it were a normal cruise, the CDC wants the cruise ship to test out procedures and ensure it can handle any health situation it could encounter.

Each ship must conduct at least one simulated cruise, and each voyage must be between 2-7 days in length with a least one overnight stay, including through embarkation, disembarkation, and post-disembarkation testing.

The CDC recommends a test cruise is at least 3 days with 2 overnight stays.

Passengers and crew must meet standards during the simulated voyage for hand hygiene, use of face masks, and social distancing for passengers and crew, as well as ship sanitation.

Royal Caribbean must modify meal service and entertainment venues to facilitate social distancing during the simulated voyage.

And then there is a laundry list of activities that the CDC says the ship needs to test across one or many separate test cruises:

  • Embarkation and disembarkation procedures, as approved by U.S. port and local health authorities as part the cruise ship operator’s Phase 2A agreements, including procedures for terminal check-in.
  • Onboard activities, including seating and meal service at dining and entertainment venues.
  • Medical evacuation procedures.
  • Transfer of symptomatic passengers or crew, or those who test positive for SARS-CoV-2, from cabins to isolation rooms.
  • Onboard and shoreside isolation and quarantine, as per the terms of the cruise ship operator’s Phase 2A agreements, of at least 5% of all passengers and non-essential crew.
  • Recreational activities that the cruise ship operator intends to offer as part of any restricted passenger voyages, e.g., casinos, spa services, fitness classes, gymnasiums.
  • Private-island shore excursions if any are planned during restricted passenger voyages. The following measures must be observed on the private island:
    • Only one ship can port at the island at any one time.
    • A routine screening testing protocol must be implemented for island staff who are expected to interact with volunteer passengers or crew, unless they are fully vaccinated or have documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
    • Mask use and social distancing must be observed in indoor areas while on the island.
  • Port of call shore excursions if any are planned during restricted passenger voyages. The following measures must be observed on port of call shore excursions:
    • Shore excursions must only include passengers and crew from the same ship.
    • Cruise ship operator must ensure all shore excursion tour companies facilitate social distancing, mask wearing, and other COVID-19 public health measures throughout the tour while in any indoor areas.
    • Cruise ship operators must have a protocol for managing persons with COVID-19 and close contacts at all foreign ports of call. At a minimum, the protocol must include the following:
      • Disembarkation and housing of persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 needing shore-based hospital care and their travel companion(s) for the duration of their isolation or quarantine period.
      • Commercial repatriation of U.S.-based persons with COVID-19 and close contacts only after meeting criteria to end isolation and quarantine per CDC guidance. For commercial repatriation of foreign-based persons with COVID-19 and close contacts, cruise ship operators must consult with all relevant public health authorities.

Adventure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Freeport

In:
19Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

The last day of our cruise brings us to a new cruise port, Freeport.

Freeport is on Grand Bahama Island, and this is the first time I've been able to explore this port of call.

There are not many choices for what to do, so I booked a visit to the Grand Lucayan resort.

The Grand Lucayan is a famous resort on the island that Royal Caribbean is likely purchasing to transform as part of a new redevelopment project. I thought it might be nice to see what there is to do now, and how it looks like.

Our times in port were 7:00am to 3:30pm, so it made for limited hours on shore since nothing in any Caribbean port opens before 9am.

We walked through the port area, which had shops and bars.  These were all closed, although some opened later in the day.

We took a taxi to the hotel (~$35 each way) to the hotel. Our taxi driver said we were his first fare in a year and a half.

Once we got to the hotel, we checked in at the front desk.

There are two resorts: The Grand Lucayan and Lighthouse Pointe.  The Grand Lucayan is closed, but Lighthouse Pointe is open.

We arrived right around 9am, and I actually booked a hotel room on an all-inclusive rate.  At the time of booking, the hotel was not taking day passes, but they are doing that now.

The day pass rate is $75 per adult, and $65 for kids.

With the all inclusive option, you get food and drinks at all the restaurants at Lighthouse Pointe, house wines by the glass, local beers, and bottled beers and some premium liquors.

Perrier Water, Vitamin water, Gatorade, Wine by the bottle, and top shelf brands are not included.

We immediately headed to the pool and beach.

There is an infinity pool and lap pool available, along with a hot tub. Both looked great, and there is chairs and umbrellas you can sit at.

The beach was really nice, and the sand was powdery soft.  If it had not been mostly overcast, it would have been really pretty.

There was no waiter service, but the nearby beach bar was just steps away from the pool and beach.  They opened at 11am and served drinks and lunch.

You can tell the resort is in need of some upgrade work, but for a day guest it was fine.

What stood out the most to me was the fact there were barely any other guests. For the first hour or two, we did not see anyone else at the beach or pool.

By the time we left, we saw perhaps 10 other guests in total.  It was strange.

We had lunch from the pool bar, and they had a nice selection of food choices. Burgers, wings, fish and more.  Pretty good quality and fresh cooked.

We had a nice time enjoying the infinity pool to ourselves. Being an all-inclusive, I'm certain we did not get our moneys worth in terms of food and drink, but it was interesting to see this resort in person.

Would I go back? I am debating that right now for our next sailing. It sounds like a lot of other cruisers did not enjoy their tours, so we may just stay onboard the ship next time.

Florida conditionally wins lawsuit against CDC to cruise ships can sail from U.S.

In:
18Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

A judge has granted an injunction against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Conditional Sail Order (CSO), albeit with a few conditions.

Florida sued the CDC because it felt the CSO unfairly singled out one industry and was hurting Florida's economy.

Judge Steven D. Merryday issued a 124 page summary, in which he ruled Florida’s motion for preliminary injunction is granted for Florida ports, but it is not a simple lifting of the order.

The CDC is ordered now from enforcing against a cruise ship arriving in, within, or departing from a port in Florida the conditional sailing order and the later measures (technical guidelines, manuals, and the like). 

However, this injunction is suspended until 12:01 a.m. EDT on JULY 18, 2021 1, at which time the conditional sailing order and the measures promulgated under the conditional sailing order will become a recommendation or guideline, and not be required.

Essentially, the CSO can be a consideration like it is for other industries, such as airlines, railroads, hotels, casinos, sports venues, buses, subways, and others.

In addition, the Judge opened up the possibility of the CDC revising the CSO into a "narrower injunction both permitting cruise ships to sail timely and remaining within CDC’s authority as interpreted in this order." They can propose such a measure no later than July 2, 2021.

If the CDC does go ahead with a revision, the new order "must support the proposed terms with current scientific evidence and fully disclose — if unavailable to the public — scientific evidence, including methodology, raw data, analysis, and the like and the names and qualifications of the scientists participating in the study, modeling, or the like."

Florida will get seven days to respond to such a revision by the CDC.

Rationale for granting the injunction

Why did Florida win it's court case?

In short, the CDC’s conditional sailing order and the implementing orders exceed the authority delegated to CDC.

There are four key reasons cited:

  1. Florida’s probability of success on the merits
  2. The imminent threat of irreparable injury to Florida
  3. The comparative injury depending on whether an injunction issues
  4. The imminent and material threat to the public interest

Florida Governor Ron Desantis sued the CDC in April as a way to combat the CDC holding cruise ships back.

 Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody added at the time, "We have filed suit this morning just before meeting with you here today, against the administration, HHS and the CDC, demanding that the court find that this effective No Sail Order is unlawful and allow our cruises to resume safely."

Adventure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Sea Day

In:
18Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

One of the best things about going on a cruise ship is all the fun packed onboard, and a sea day is a great time to try it out.

Before we hit up the fun, the matter of testing was needed.

Royal Caribbean transformed deck 5 of the main dining room into a rapid test center, and guests had the choice of getting an antigen test today or tomorrow.

This test serves two purposes: satisfying Bahamian law and providing a test result to get back into the United States.

This was an antigen test, so it was quick and easy.  Most people made reservations once onboard the ship for a time slot, although they seemed to have more availability and took walk-ins.

Since we are doing a back-to-back cruise, my kids had to get an antigen test, but my wife and I did not since we are both fully vaccinated.

Test results are emailed back to you, as well as delivered to your stateroom.

The weather today was not great, with lots of clouds and even some rain.  The forecast was for things to clear up as we got closer to The Bahamas.

Something else new on Royal Caribbean is a new fleetwide drink menu.

Every few years, Royal Caribbean updates its drink menu for locations that do not have a specialized drink menu. One noticable difference with this year's edition is there is a focus on drinks sourced from Caribbean islands, as well as more attention to low alcohol and no alcohol drinks.

Royal Caribbean set up a sampling event where some of the new drinks could be sampled.

Don't worry, the menu is just a starting point, so you can still order all of your favorite cocktails.

With the weather iffy at best, we enjoyed some time relaxing onboard.

A few fellow RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers even took over a Blackjack table in the casino for some fun.  

The casino is limiting tables to 4 people to enforce social distancing.

Dinner this evening took us to Izumi, which is the only location in the fleet on the Royal Promenade.

I love sushi, especially from Izumi, and they also have a menu of non-sushi items to enjoy as well.

After dinner, we went to Studio B to check out the ice skating show.  

Many guests onboard were equally interested to see one of the ice show's cast, Jordan, who had been doing vlogs on her YouTube channel about being a crew member on Adventure of the Seas.

After the show, there was a comedian in the theater, who did a great job of working the crowd into his act.

In both Studio B and the theater, many seats and even entire rows are unavailable to sit in for social distancing purposes.

Tomorrow is our last day of the sailing, and we will be in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Royal Caribbean releases health protocols for first U.S. cruise ship sailing

In:
17Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has announced to guests booked on its first cruise ship to restart cruises from the U.S. what health protocols and requirements they can expect.

Currently, this information only pertains to Freedom of the Seas sailings out of Miami in July 2021.

Freedom of the Seas will restart cruises from Miami with short sailings to The Bahamas.

The new protocols cover vaccinations, testing, masks and more.

Vaccines

As previously stated, Royal Caribbean recommends all guests 16 and older be fully vaccinated.

At check-in, guests will be asked to provide documentation of their vaccination, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. Those who are 16 and older and do not have or are unable to provide documentation will be considered unvaccinated.

Unvaccinated guests must undergo additional COVID-19 testing at their own expense, and follow the health protocols described below, which are based on guidance from the CDC.

Someone that does not wish to undergo or pay for additional testing, or adhere to these health and safety protocols, can ask for a refund.

Testing

All unvaccinated guests must undergo multiple COVID-19 tests.

Testing at the terminal prior to embarkation and onboard prior to disembarkation will be conducted by licensed and accredited third-party testing providers we have contracted.

Unvaccinated guests must register for this testing and agree to the third-party testing provider terms and conditions. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.

The total charge from the third-party testing vendor for these tests is $136. This amount will be applied to the guest’s onboard expense account.

Royal Caribbean will pay the testing vendor(s) on the guest’s behalf and will not retain any part of the testing costs.

For children not yet eligible to be vaccinated, we will cover the cost of any required testing.

Here are the testing requirements for unvaccinated guests during the cruise:

Pre-Cruise  

Unvaccinated guests 16 years of age and older will need to undergo an RT-PCR test administered by an accredited laboratory of the guest’s choice, and taken within three days of sailing.

Royal Caribbean will require documentation of a negative result for this test prior to embarkation. All costs for this test are the unvaccinated guest’s responsibility.

At the Terminal  

Unvaccinated guests 2 years of age and older are required to take an RT-PCR test when checking in at the terminal, which will be administered by one of our testing vendors. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.

Prior to Disembarking  

While onboard, unvaccinated guests 2 years of age and older will be required to undergo antigen testing within 24 hours of disembarking at the end of the voyage.

This test will be conducted the day before the cruise ends by one of our testing vendors. Guests will be notified onboard about how to register for this test.

Face Masks

Unlike Adventure of the Seas from The Bahamas, face masks will be required by guests in certain situations onboard.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated guests are required to wear masks indoors unless:

  • Seated and actively eating or drinking
  • Masks are not required in your stateroom when you are with your traveling party, outdoors, or at Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless in a crowded setting
  • Guests under the age of 2 do not need to wear a mask

Royal Caribbean said they are expecting updated guidance from the CDC on mask policies for vaccinated guests and will provide an update.

Vaccinated venues

Royal Caribbean will designate certain venues (bars, lounges, restaurants and entertainment) or events as only for vaccinated guests only. At those locations, masks wont be required.

Your SeaPass card will be required to access lounges, shows and dining venues.

Vaccinated guests will receive a wristband and those who are unvaccinated (or choose not to disclose if they are) will have a hole punched in their SeaPass card.

For unvaccinated guests, there will still be entertainment and options open to them, but there will be some options, such as late night entertainment, for vaccinated guests.  

Select showtimes will be for vaccinated guests and others for vaccinated and unvaccinated guests.

In the Main Dining Room, there will be designated areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated reservations to dine separately.

My Time Dining will not be available to unvaccinated guests. 

Physical Distancing

Venues will be set up with proper spacing and Royal Caribbean asks guests to abide by physical distancing, especially when interacting with those outside of your traveling party.

Shore Excursions

All guests are subject to restrictions and requirements as defined by local authorities in the ports we visit. Details will be provided onboard.

According to the cruise line, it is reasonable to expect that unvaccinated guests will be subject to stricter protocols than vaccinated guests. 

Full protocols

Here is the letter Royal Caribbean has sent to its guests booked on the ship.

Adventure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Cozumel

In:
17Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Adventure of the Seas made its first port of call stop not at a private island on this sailing, when we arrived in Cozumel.

Unfortunately the weather forecast was not favorable, but you gotta make do with what you get.

Since it was overcast and looked like it might rain a lot, we decided to go downtown and have lunch instead of doing an excursion or going to the beach.

I was curious to see what Cozumel is like after all these months without cruise ships and the tourists they bring.  While so much attention is given to the plight of the cruise lines during the shutdown, ports like Cozumel have been suffering without the daily flow of tourists.

I was surprised to see most of the shops and restaurants open for business. Perhaps they all just closed up until today, but the stores were ready for tourists.

In fact, many of the people working at these shops were surprised to see cruise ship visitors.  Some told us they had heard cruise ship guests would be limited to cruise line excursions, or were simply unaware a ship was back.

In Cozumel, you have to wear a mask inside and outside, regardless of if you are vaccinated or not. It's a federal law, so it definitely made walking around a little more uncomfortable since the humidity was extremely high.

Besides wearing masks, the experience being back downtown was the same as in the past. Lots of people encouraging you to stop in and shop, restaurants open, and taxis all over the place.

We had lunch in a restaurant we had never been to before north of downtown, but the food was disappointing.  It just was nothing special.

We then headed to a new coffee shop that I had never seen before, Aqui + Ahora Coffee.

The place had a great vibe to it, and a nice assortment of coffees, snacks, and some light food too.

Afterwards, we decided to head back to the ship and relax in our (air conditioned) cabin.

Overall, Cozumel looked better than I expected.  I thought perhaps only a fraction of the stores or restaurants would be open, but a surprisingly large number of venues were open.

When we come back next week, our plan is to visit an old favorite, Paradise Beach, and see what that experience is like now.

CDC lowers warning level for cruise ships

In:
16Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) lowered its warning for going on a cruise ship for the first time since the global health crisis began.

The warning has gone from Level 4 to a Level 3 warning of "Very High" to "High".

The CDC's 4-level system categorizes destinations, including international destinations and United States Territories, into the following four levels:

Level 4: Very high level of COVID-19
Level 3: High level of COVID-19
Level 2: Moderate level of COVID-19
Level 1: Low level of COVID-19

The CDC noted the warning change is aimed at non-vaccinated passengers, "Lowered from Level 4 to Level 3, and specified the notice is for travelers who are not fully vaccinated."

The CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide.


New Level 3 Warning


Previous Level 4 Warning

In its revised verbiage, they specify unvaccinated passengers face a greater threat going on a cruise than someone who is vaccinated,"It is especially important that people who are not fully vaccinated who are more likely to get severely ill avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises.

"Cruise passengers who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are at increased risk, since the virus spreads person-to-person, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships because of their congregate (group) settings where COVID-19 spreads easily."

The CDC raised the warning level for cruise ship travel to its highest point of Level 4 in November 2020, and it remained at that level until today.

Just like the cruise lines, the CDC recommends that anyone going on a cruise ship get vaccinated before their trip, which means being fully vaccinated before travel begin.

The CDC also advocates anyone going on a cruise during the pandemic do the following:

  • Get tested with a COVID-19 viral test 1–3 days before your departure, even if you are fully vaccinated.
  • Get travel insurance

Royal Caribbean begins construction on its next generation cruise ship Icon of the Seas

In:
16Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean announced the official start of construction for its newest cruise ship, along with its name.

On June 14, construction officially began on the first Icon Class cruise ship with a steel cutting ceremony at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, which is the same shipyard that built a number of Royal Caribbean ship, including Allure and Oasis of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean also confirmed the ship's name will be Icon of the Seas.

The Icon Class ships will be Royal Caribbean's newest class of cruise ships.

Debuting in fall 2023, Icon will be the cruise line’s first of three ships to be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas). LNG and the state-of-the-art ship’s additional environmentally friendly applications, such as shore power connection, will boost energy efficiencies and reduce carbon footprint. More details about Icon’s advanced environmental technologies will be revealed at a future date.

Not much else is known about the Icon Class, but according to Royal Caribbean Group SEC filings in April 2021, the unnamed Icon Class ships will have a capacity of approximately 5,600 passengers.

This would make the Icon class ships larger than the Quantum Class ships, but slightly smaller than the Oasis Class ships.

There are three Icon Class ships on order:

  • Unnamed first Icon class ship delivery in 3rd Quarter 2023
  • Unnamed second Icon class ship delivery in 2nd Quarter 2025
  • Unnamed third Icon class ship delivery in 2nd Quarter 2026

In attendance at the ceremony was Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group; Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International; and Tim Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku.

“We made our commitment to making clean power at sea a reality – and soon the norm – when Icon Class was first announced in 2016, and we’re excited to see construction underway on what will truly be a ship unlike any other,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Our decades of work in ocean conservation, energy efficiency and continuous improvement will be evident all throughout Icon. We look forward to revealing more of the game-changing features our guests and crew have in store as she begins to take shape.” 

Adventure of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Sea Day

In:
16Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Our first sea day is my first good opportunity to check out different areas of Adventure of the Seas to see what is new and different, as well as see how the policies are working.

The first place I headed was the main dining room for breakfast, and the experience is the same, but the menu has been updated with a new look, and I think the market fresh vegetable bowl is new as well.

Going from Nassau to CocoCay meant we never truly were at sea in the traditional sense, but today the ship will spend all day at sea as we head west to Cozumel.

I decided to head up to the pool deck and enjoy some time outdoors with the sea breeze, and it stared off as a beautiful day with sun and a few clouds.

After catching up on some work, I walked around the ship to check out different facilities.

First up is the fitness center, which is open although it has limited capacity.

The fitness center requires passengers to sign up for a time slot, as only 16 people can use it at a time. You can sign up via the Royal Caribbean app, or in person at the entrance.

There are machines blocked off to promote social distancing.

The complimentary sauna and steam rooms in the fitness center are closed until further notice due to Covid-19 concerns.

Something else a lot of cruisers love is the ice cream on the pool deck, and that is operational throughout the day.  A crew member serves it for you.

The pool deck experience was fantastic, and one of the nice nuances of being on a ship with reduced capacity is you can roll up to the pool deck mid-morning and not have to compete for a lounge chair by the pool.

I wrote yesterday about some of the lessons learned early on, and the lack of crowds is a really nice "side effect" of the current state of cruising.

For lunch, our partners from MEI Travel rented out Giovanni's Table and invited everyone who booked into the group to enjoy a meal.

Unfortunately, the weather turned for the worse in the afternoon and the sun gave way to clouds and rain.  

I headed inside and enjoyed some time catching up with friends onboard, and it was the kind of relaxing afternoon on a sea day that I missed being able to experience during the shutdown.

Our evening schedule was back to routine tonight, with taking the kids to the main dining room for dinner, and then dropping them off at Adventure Ocean.

Speaking of Adventure Ocean, the reservation system up there is working out just fine and yesterday (day 3) they opened up bookings for everyone beyond the initial 15 hours we were limited to when we got onboard.

Dinner was at Chops Grille, and it was another fantastic evening of service and quality food.  Throughout the ship's dining venues, the service and food temperature has been really good. 

Maybe all this time away from cruising has changed my expectations, but overall the restaurant experience has been terrific.

After dinner, we headed to the Duck and Dog Pub to enjoy acoustic music with Kieran, who I first saw on Facebook doing live videos from his cabin during quarantine.  

I love live music in the pub, and Kieran has a great combination of personality and talent.

Tomorrow we will be in Cozumel, rain or shine!

Royal Caribbean delays Odyssey of the Seas inaugural sailing from U.S. due to Covid-19 among crew members

In:
15Jun2021
By: Matt Hochberg

It looks like Odyssey of the Seas first cruise is once again delayed.

Royal Caribbean confirmed the first few scheduled sailings will be canceled due to positive cases of Covid-19 onboard the ship among crew members.

According to the cruise line, all the crew members on Odyssey of the Seas were tested on June 4 when the ship arrived in Port Canaveral, as part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Conditional Sailing Order.

The crew were tested again on June 10, and eight crew members tested positive.

Royal Caribbean's medical team is monitoring the crew that tested positive, and they are "in good health".

In addition, and in an abundance of caution, Royal Caribbean has made the decision to ask all crew members to quarantine for 14 days to ensure the health and safety of everyone on board. 

As a result, Odyssey of the Seas debut is being delayed and her first few sailings are canceled.

The ship was scheduled to begin sailing on July 3, but will now start sailing on July 31.

Guests booked onboard will be contacted with refund and rescheduling options.

Royal Caribbean said the change was unwelcome, but the safety of everyone onboard is the top priority, "This was an unexpected but necessary decision to make, and we are committed to doing the right thing for everyone’s well-being."

Here is the full statement from a Royal Caribbean spokesperson:

Out of an abundance of caution, we are postponing Odyssey of the Seas’ first sailings from July 3 until July 31, 2021. The simulation cruise, originally scheduled for late June, will also be rescheduled.  

During routine testing, eight crew members received a positive test result for COVID-19. All 1,400 crew on board Odyssey were vaccinated on June 4 and will be considered fully vaccinated on June 18. These positive cases were identified after the vaccination was given but before they were fully effective. 

The eight crew members, six of whom are asymptomatic and two with mild symptoms, were immediately quarantined and are being closely monitored by our medical team. To protect the remaining crew and prevent any further cases, we will have all crew quarantined for 14 days and continue with our routine testing. 

Guests and travel partners will be notified and given several options to consider. While disappointing, this is the right decision for the health and well-being of our crew and guests.  

This is not the first time crew on Odyssey of the Seas have had a brush with Covid.

In late May, Royal Caribbean disembarked four crew members in Spain who had tested positive for Covid-19 onboard the Odyssey of the Seas while the ship was moving from Israel to the United States.

A week later,Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on Facebook that the crew members have tested negative.

"They continue to remain asymptomatic (no symptoms) and yesterday all tested negative and will need one more test before being released on Friday," he said.

"Plans are to re assign the crew to Harmony and Symphony of the Seas. As our protocols work and all our crew get vaccinated we are on the road to Freedom."

Odyssey of the Seas is Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, but her debut has been delayed numerous times due to Covid-19.

She was originally scheduled to be built and delivered by 2020, but that was pushed back a year.

Then her inaugural season from Rome was cancelled, and instead scheduled to sail from Israel this summer.  Violence in the region forced Royal Caribbean to cancel her entire summer season and the ship was re-scheduled to start sailings from Fort Lauderdale.

Odyssey of the Seas will offer roundtrip cruises from Fort Lauderdale.

Odyssey is the first Quantum Ultra Class ship to cruise from the U.S., which features SeaPlex - the largest indoor and outdoor activity complex at sea - and a vibrant, Caribbean-inspired pool deck

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