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COVID-19 cases delay the long-awaited voyage to the Caribbean

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Royal Caribbean International is postponing for almost a month one of the first much-anticipated US cruises since the pandemic began because eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19

MIAMI – Royal Caribbean International is postponing for nearly a month one of the first US-expected voyages since the pandemic began because eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19, the company CEO said.

Bayley said all 1,400 crew members aboard the Odyssey of the Seas were vaccinated on June 4, but less than two weeks had passed since their troops were building defenses against the virus. Six of the crew members who tested positive are asymptomatic and two are mildly ill, he said, adding that the company has quarantined all crew members for 14 days and will continue routine testing.

Company spokeswoman Lyan Sierra-Caro said the probationary trip with volunteer passengers originally planned for this month would help the cruise line meet the requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before resuming paid passenger travel. The CDC has not yet approved the test, Sierra-Caro said.

The Odyssey of the Seas debut was highly anticipated as the cruise lines try to recover after more than 15 months of not having sailed from the US due to the pandemic. Royal Caribbean International has said travelers are strongly advised to get vaccinated, adding that unvaccinated travelers should be tested for the virus and take other measures.

Celebrity Edge, also part of the Royal Caribbean Group, is set to become the first post-pandemic ship to sail from the US with passengers on board on June 26th. A Celebrity Cruises spokeswoman told the Associated Press that the Celebrity Edge is able to navigate a test because it is following CDC guidelines by allowing ships with 98% vaccinated crew and 95% vaccinated guests to pass that step.

We are going beyond those guidelines, Celebrity Cruises spokeswoman Susan Lomax said in an email.

A new law in Florida prohibits businesses from requiring customers to show evidence of vaccination. Governor Ron DeSantis argues that the legislation was intended to safeguard individual liberty and medical privacy.

Lomax said state law stipulates that businesses may not require clients to provide any documents, but we are able to ask guests if they wish to share their vaccination status.

Associated Press writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.

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