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Cruisers are again disrupted due to the Covid-19

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(CNN) – At least four ocean-going cruise ships have been pushed out of ports of call or banned from landing in the Americas this week due to the Covid-19 cases on board.

Although other cruise ships have had cases of Covid-19 from US-based ships resumed service this summer with vaccine requirements and other measures aimed at minimizing outbreaks, it appears that the rate of cruise ships required to modify their itineraries has increased.
The interruptions are still a long way off March 2020, when the pandemic shut down the industry and caused weeks of effort to bring passengers and crew members already embarked home while ports were closed to ships affected by the virus.
However, this week’s disruptions came amid global concern over the highly transmissible variant of the Omicron coronavirus, and how Covid-19 case rates rose in the US and elsewhere.

Recent cruise disruptions include:

• Mexican officials prevented the Holland America Koningsdam of letting its passengers disembark in Puerto Vallarta on Thursday after 21 crew members tested positive for Covid-19, the Jalisco state health department said.

A “small number of fully vaccinated crew” tested positive and all showed no or no symptoms, Holland America told CNN.

The Koningsdam.

The Koningsdam.

Alfredo Martínez / Getty Images

Jalisco health authorities would initially allow people with negative evidence to disembark. However, they changed their minds, citing “exponential growth in confirmed cases in the crew” on Thursday, the department said. Only one crew member had tested positive less than a week earlier, the department said.

The ship, which left San Diego on December 19 with more than 1,000 passengers and more than 870 crew, visited Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlán before arriving in Puerto Vallarta. He is due to return to San Diego as scheduled on Sunday.

Holland America, like the other cruise companies in this story, requires that passengers and crew be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with a few exceptions for children.

• Ports of the Caribbean islands of Bonaire and Aruba rejected the Carnival Freedom ship on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, after “a small number” of people on board tested positive for Covid-19, the cruise company said.

However, the company made a replacement stop on Friday in the Dominican Republic.

So was he authorized to stop in Curaçao on Tuesday. Dr. Izzy Gerstenbluth, a national epidemiologist from Curaçao, said the ship alerted him before it arrived that crew members had tested positive. After visiting the ship and determining that the cases were contained among the crew, Curaçao allowed the ship’s passengers to leave the ship, with the crew remaining on board, he said.

The ship will return to Miami as scheduled on Sunday, the cruise line said.

The Royal Caribbean Odyssey of The Seas.

The Royal Caribbean Odyssey of The Seas.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

• Curaçao and Aruba officials rejected the Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas This week after 55 fully vaccinated crew members and passengers contracted Covid-19, the Miami Herald reported Wednesday.

Curaçao health officials decided that the percentage of people on board who tested positive was too high for the country to allow the ship to dock, the Curaçao Chronicle reported.

The ship is due to return to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday as planned.

According to Royal Caribbean, the ship can accommodate up to 5,550 guests plus 1,600 crew. It was unclear if the ship was fully occupied.

The Seven Seas Mariner.

The Seven Seas Mariner.

Manfred Segerer / ullstein bild / Getty Images

• Colombian officials prevented the Seven Seas Mariner to let anyone land in Cartagena on Wednesday, after seven positive cases of Covid-19 – in six crew and one passenger – were reported. The ship started one 18-day journey from Miami to San Francisco on December 18th.

The disruptions so far have affected a small portion of the cruises in operation

Altered cruisers represent a small fraction of the dozens of cruises underway in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and the Pacific at any time this month.

Covid-19’s positive tests aboard the cruise ship are not exclusive to this month: other times have passed since cruise ships resumed departures from U.S. shores this summer.

In August, for example, 27 people tested positive on a Carnival cruise before arriving at a port in Belize City.

Now, the spread of the Omicron variant “may shape how some target authorities see even a small number of cases, even when handled with our vigorous protocols,” Carnival spokeswoman said. AnneMarie Mathews, on CNN Friday in a prepared statement.

“Some destinations have limited medical resources and are focused on managing their own local response to the variant,” Mathews added.

“Should a port be canceled, we will do our best to find an alternative destination,” Mathews said.

Health and safety protocols

Airlines recommend boosts for their passengers. Holland America says its crew members receive reinforcements as soon as they are eligible.

Cruise companies generally require their passengers to take a negative Covid-19 test before commencing the voyage and require frequent testing of their crews.

Passengers who test positive during the trip are generally required to isolate themselves

U.S.-based cruises also require the use of masks in inland public areas. This policy was recently updated to extend the use of indoor masks to fully vaccinated passengers.

CNN’s Francesca Street, Melissa Alonso, Aya Elamroussi, Carma Hassan, Hira Humayun, Stefano Pozzebon, Valentina DiDonato and Sharif Paget contributed to this report.

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