ABC Islands Tell 2 Cruise Ships ‘Go Home’ After Showing Up Riddled With COVID-19
MIAMI — A COVID-19 outbreak took place on a South Florida-based cruise ship for the third time this week, as the number of coronavirus cases in Florida hit its highest level since the start of the pandemic.
An undisclosed number of passengers and crew aboard the Carnival Freedom cruise caught the virus so the ship was denied entry to Bonaire and Aruba, Carnival said in a statement.
The ship has 2,497 passengers and 1,112 crew members and was scheduled to return to Miami on Sunday following an 8-day cruise. Passengers were required to be vaccinated and they were tested before leaving last Saturday, according to Carnival.
“Carnival Freedom is following all protocols and has a small number on board who are in isolation due to a positive COVID test,” the statement said. “Our protocols anticipate this possibility and we implement them as necessary to protect the health and safety of our guests and crew.”
Ashley Peterson, a passenger on the ship, tweeted a photo of a December 22 letter from the ship’s captain apologizing for being unable to make stops in Aruba and Bonaire. The letter said passengers would get $100 per room in onboard credit, as well refunds for planned excursions.
Meanwhile, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship was refused entry to three islands after dozens of vaccinated crew and passengers tested positive for COVID-19 just days after setting sail.
The Odyssey of the Seas will not be allowed to make port at Curacao and Aruba, two of just three stops in its itinerary before returning to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 26.
Some 55 fully vaccinated crew members and passengers have become infected on the eight-day round trip that set off on December 18.
It means tourists onboard the 5,500-passenger liner will spend Christmas Day at sea with activities and entertainment reduced to prevent spread of the virus.
Health officials in Curacao refused to allow the ship to dock because the percentage of infected people on board was too high, the Curacao Chronicle reported.
Dr. Izzy Gerstenbluth, an epidemiologist on the island, said that when it was found that more than one percent of crew members were infected, passengers were banned from disembarking.
“The day before yesterday, 18 crew members were positive, yesterday 36 and this morning there were 51,” he told the publication.
“In addition, several crew members have not been quarantined, so there is a good chance that passengers have also been infected.”
The ship was scheduled to arrive in Aruba on Thursday, but it was also been refused entry there.
The outbreaks come days after at least 48 people aboard the company’s Symphony of the Seas ship tested positive for COVID-19 when the cruise docked in Miami.
It was the third outbreak this week affecting cruise ships operated by Carnival and Royal Caribbean departing Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Florida had 31,758 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, breaking a record for the most cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic in the U.S. in March 2020, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new record was driven by the spread of the new omicron variant through the Sunshine State.
The previous single-day highest number of cases was in last August, during the height of the delta variant wave in Florida, when 27,802 cases were reported.