When cruises are resumed after a break of more than a year, the industry is facing an immediate setback.
Two passengers sharing a cabin aboard the Celebrity Millennium operated by Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Cruises from the Caribbean island of St. Maarten tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday. The ship, which will be billed as the first fully vaccinated cruise in North America, has one more day at sea on Friday before returning to St. Maarten to disembark.
All guests will conduct an antigen test as part of their disembarkation, said Susan Lomax, the company’s vice president of global public relations.
In a statement, the cruise line said that passengers tested positive during the required tests before leaving the ship. The travelers are asymptomatic and are observed in isolation by a medical team. There are tests and contact tracking for close contacts.
The ship’s 650 crew members and approximately 600 passengers (including a New York Times reporter) were required to be vaccinated prior to boarding and were required to provide evidence of a negative coronavirus test obtained within 72 hours prior to departure from St. Maarten last Saturday was carried out.
Two passengers on an MSC Cruises Mediterranean cruise also tested positive. Both passengers on the MSC Seaside were asymptomatic when they tested positive in routine tests two days ago, said communications manager Paige Rosenthal. Immediately after the positive test, the two passengers who were not traveling together were isolated along with their groups. They all ended up in Syracuse, Sicily.
All passengers on the ship had to do two coronavirus tests before boarding. No vaccinations were required.
The major cruise lines are preparing to resume operations from US ports this summer. Celebrity Edge stands ready to be the first to sail from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. On June 26th, with all crew and at least 95 percent of passengers fully vaccinated in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
At the start of the pandemic in 2020, cruise lines were the scene of some of the greatest concentrations of coronavirus cases. The return of cruises and large gatherings like conferences is a sign that the pandemic is coming to an end in the United States as vaccinations continue to advance – 43 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated and 52 percent have received at least one dose, according to a database of the New York Times – Gives confidence to some promoters to resume business.
Earlier this month, Bitcoin 2021, a business conference dedicated to digital currency, sold 12,000 tickets and attracted thousands more to Miami for a week of panels, parties, networking and deal-making. It was the first major economic conference since the pandemic and the largest Bitcoin conference ever.
In the days following the event, several participants announced on Twitter that they had tested positive for the coronavirus. Others shared stories of their colleagues who tested positive.
The event attracted Bitcoin enthusiasts from around the world, including some countries that do not yet have easy access to vaccines. Most of the events took place in a large, overcrowded warehouse, and face coverings were rare. No vaccinations were required to participate.
John Riggins, operations manager at BTC Media who chaired the conference, said the company had not heard directly from any attendees who tested positive. The company is monitoring the situation and will follow the CDC’s recommendations, he said.
“Vaccines have been freely available in the US for months so anyone who wanted to get vaccinated could have been at the time of the event,” Riggins wrote in an email.
“We provided all attendees with the latest recommendations from the CDC and the State of Florida, and told our audience that those at high risk or not vaccinated should consider waiting until next year,” he added.
This week, the first major trade show in the US since the pandemic began, The World of Concrete, takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The event typically attracts more than 60,000 industry professionals from around the world.