Cruise lines say no change on sailing plans after new COVID-19 cases

(Reuters) -Royal Caribbean Group and Carnival Corp will push ahead with a return to cruises this summer despite two guests onboard Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Millennium ship testing positive for COVID-19.

FILE PHOTO: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas cruise ship docks at Marina Bay Cruise Center after a passenger tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a cruise to nowhere, in Singapore, December 9, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su//File Photo

A year after several cruise ships were host to major coronavirus outbreaks and with large numbers of Americans now vaccinated, cruise lines have been striving to get business going.

Shares in Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corp and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, which booked massive losses last year as restrictions brought cruising to a standstill, fell between 1% and 2% in response to the report of the positive tests.

Asked by Reuters on Friday, Royal Caribbean declined to give more details on the guests who had tested positive or the circumstances of their infection, saying only that it was not changing its plans for the summer.

A source close to Carnival who declined to be named said the company was also pressing ahead as planned.

Celebrity Millennium, one of the first ships in North America to restart sailing, said on Thursday the individuals were asymptomatic, in isolation and being monitored by medics. The company was also conducting contact tracing and expediting testing for all close contacts.

All guests on Celebrity Millennium were required to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative COVID-19 test before sailing from St. Maarten this past Saturday.

“I don’t believe it is that much of an issue and actually is an opportunity for Royal to show how it handles what is the biggest post-pandemic fear,” Tigress Financial Partners Chief Investment Officer Ivan Feinseth said.

Cruise lines are in discussions with Florida, from where some trips will sail, as the state’s governor pushed against people having to show proof of vaccine. Trips are scheduled to start in June and early July, sailing to the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera and Alaska.

Cruise expert Stewart Chiron, who is on board the Celebrity Millennium ship, told Reuters that life onboard on Thursday night had gone on as planned, with dinners, shows, and evening entertainment. He said no one on board was wearing masks.

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