Cruise Lines Aim for Under 1 Percent COVID Threshold; Ports Deny Ships

Odyssey of the Seas

With a number of ports in the Caribbean and Mexico turning away cruise ships with a COVID-19 case rate over one percent of a ship’s population, cruise lines are working to keep case numbers down, trim occupancy and move crew off ships if possible.

Nonstop Itinerary Changes

Across the industry, lines are dealing with ports across the Caribbean and Mexico turning away calls.

Many countries and ports have targeted a 1 percent COVID number for cruise ships, meaning if one percent of the shipboard population tests positive, they will deny disembarkation.

Among numerous examples, passengers aboard the Oceania Riviera were denied disembarkation in Curacao on Tuesday, following a call in Bonaire where they were able to get off. The ship’s next call in Barbados is cancelled.

Cruise line itinerary planners have told Cruise Industry News they are racing to find replacement ports and understand changing rules and regulations.

On the West Coast, the Carnival Panorama’s seven-day cruise from Long Beach to Mexico is now exclusively sea days, with all port calls cancelled, according to a guest aboard.

On the Odyssey of the Seas, calls in St. Thomas and San Juan have been dropped on the ship’s current sailing in favor of Puerto Plata as a number of crew have tested positive.

St. Thomas and St. Kitts both recently turned away calls, including the Allure of the Seas from Royal Caribbean International.

One reader, in an email to Cruise Industry News, said he was quarantined in a stateroom following a positive COVID-19 test, and had even received a phone call from the cruise line’s president checking in on him.

Moving Crew

Major cruise lines are said to be transferring asymptomatic COVID-19 positive crew members to ships not currently in revenue operation.

Meanwhile, when possible, asymptomatic COVID-19 positive crew are being put into shoreside housing to trim shipboard numbers.

One major cruise line has apparently suspended all crew travel movements, meaning crew will have to wait to go home, and no new crew is able to join the ships until the current wave subsides.

Aboard the ships, this has led to staffing shortages, show cancellations and other challenges as the industry works to continue operations.

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