More than a dozen people who were on a cruise ship that docked in New Orleans on Sunday tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials said, highlighting obstacles the cruise industry continues to face. to cope after more than a year of restrictions and setbacks.
Ten people aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, tested positive on Saturday, before the ship docked, according to the Louisiana Department of Health, and by Sunday that number had risen to 17, health officials said. This includes a “probable case” of the Omicron variant in a crew member, they said.
The Norwegian Breakaway, carrying more than 3,200 people, departed New Orleans on November 28 and called in Belize, Honduras and Mexico before returning to Louisiana.
The cruise line said in a statement Monday that those who tested positive on the ship were asymptomatic and that the crew member who was believed to have the Omicron variant “was in isolation for the entire cruise,” which began on Nov. 28.
Norwegian Cruise Line had followed proper quarantine and isolation protocols, health officials said, adding that every passenger would be required to take a coronavirus test before disembarking. Travelers who tested positive either traveled directly to their homes by personal vehicles or self-isolated, officials said in a statement.
Norwegian Cruise Line has one of the strictest vaccination policies in the industry, requiring all passengers, including children, and crew members to undergo antigen testing and be fully vaccinated before boarding. . Children who are not eligible for a vaccine are not allowed to travel.
“As always, the health and safety of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit is our top priority,” a spokesperson for the line said in the statement, adding: “We will never compromise on health and safety “.
At the start of the pandemic, epidemics on cruise ships that turned into major super-spraying events grabbed the headlines. Even after vaccinations gained momentum in the United States in April, allowing much of the travel industry to restart, cruise ships remained moored in ports, costing the industry billions. of dollars in losses every month.
In the summer, a comeback was in full swing, with many cruise lines reporting an increase in bookings and better control of Covid-19 protocols. But a recent increase in Covid cases in parts of the United States and Europe, and growing concerns about the Omicron variant, could slow that momentum.