Cruise giant Royal Caribbean Group is among the companies “disappointed” with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement last week advising travelers against cruise travel, even those who have been vaccinated.
One of the most impacted sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic, the cruise industry has once again run into a major setback as the emergence of Omicron is seeing infections on board ships and bans from ports.
On Wednesday, Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas was ordered to return to port in Hong Kong after a Covid scare.
“Omicron is having a big short-term impact on everyone, but many observers see this as a major step towards Covid-19 becoming endemic rather than epidemic,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group. “We don’t like to see even one case, but our experience is a fraction of the comparable statistics of virtually any other comparable location or industry.”
In efforts to clarify the reality of the situation, Royal Caribbean Group said in statement that “since cruising restarted in the US in June 2021, the Royal Caribbean Group has carried 1.1 million guests with 1,745 people testing positive – a positivity rate of 0.02 percent.”
According to CDC data, Covid-19 cases were found on board several cruise ships belonging to the world’s largest companies over the past weeks.
Royal Caribbean Group notes in its statement that the Omicron variant is significantly more contagious than the previous strains and has already become the predominant form of Covid-19 the US and elsewhere. “Fortunately, Omicron also appears to cause significantly less severe symptoms than previous variants, especially in people who have been vaccinated. Cruise travel remains one of the few ways one can take a vacation knowing that almost everyone involved is fully vaccinated.”
Calvin Johnson, chief medical officer for Royal Caribbean Group, admitted that the “case count has spiked, but the level of severity is significantly milder. We will remain nimble and in constant contact with health authorities,” he said, adding that the company is navigating through the ever-evolving information on the Omicron variant.
In response to the CDC guidance, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) issued a statement last week: “While we are disappointed and disagree with the decision to single out the cruise industry – an industry that continues to go above and beyond compared to other sectors – CLIA and our ocean-going cruise line members remain committed to working collaboratively with the CDC in the interest of public health and safety.”
Royal Caribbean, one of the world’s leading cruise companies, is represented in Greece by Navigator Travel & Tourist Services.