MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Royal Caribbean announced a setback on Wednesday, on top of an ongoing conflict the industry has with Governor Ron DeSantis.
“Sailing during a deadline pandemic is dangerous. I don’t think there is any way to prevent the virus from getting on a ship, ”said James Walker, a maritime attorney.
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Walker says fears of what could happen when the cruises return have become a reality.
“Odyssey of the Seas had 13 crew members tested positive for COVID over a period of two and a half weeks, which is not a good sign of a safe future cruise,” said Walker.
Six of the crew members who tested positive are asymptomatic and two are slightly ill. And before the ship docked in Fort Lauderdale, five more had tested positive for the virus.
Due to the positive tests, Royal Caribbean is postponing its highly anticipated first departures from the US since the pandemic.
However, travel industry expert Sandra McLemore says the recent positive tests are evidence that the COVID protocols are working.
“If no one on board had been vaccinated in this case, it would have spread like wildfire. Can you imagine that at the beginning of the peak of the pandemic, eight people on a ship would become infected with COVID? This is not a setback, this is a proof of concept, ”she said.
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CBS4 was informed that approximately 1,400 crew members were vaccinated aboard the Odyssey of the Seas on June 4. However, it had been less than two weeks before their bodies had built up protection from the virus. And in a recent survey by the University of South Florida, researchers found that most Floridians support sailing when vaccination is required.
“We found that around 43% of Floridians believe that a vaccine should be mandatory for cruise lines in Florida. Another 32 to 33% said the decision should be made by the cruise line. So in total, we saw around 76% of people who said they would prefer mandatory vaccinations for cruises, ”said Stephen Neely.
McLemore said that’s what the cruise industry wants.
“Nobody wants to sail a ship without knowing who is on board or who doesn’t know their vaccination status,” said McLemore.
And in other areas where vaccine verification is allowed, the cruise was safe.
“Several cruise ships have sold out from Europe. MSC, for example, had no cases the whole summer they sailed out of Europe. Royal Caribbean had a ship in Asia, no cases on board, ”McLemore said. “But again, back to my point, the goal is not to have no cases on board. The goal is to have multiple levels of protection so that when cases arise, they can be dealt with quickly. “
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Some cruise lines like Norwegian have threatened to leave Florida if vaccinations aren’t allowed. Experts say this could cost the state $ 3.6 billion every six months when ships are idle.