For the second time this month, a cruise ship with fully vaccinated adult passengers and crew detected a COVID-19 outbreak.
Forty-eight people aboard a Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, tested positive for COVID on Saturday after returning from a week-long cruise.
"Everyone who tested positive was asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, and we continuously monitored their health," Royal Caribbean told NBC Miami. "Each person quickly went into quarantine," the statement said.
The five positive cases in our group have been sent to the Holiday Inn Miami. 2 already have rooms. @RoyalCaribbean has the rest sitting in a conference center without chairs or water/ food. My partner had to call and make a fuss for them to provide these essentials. pic.twitter.com/8jBqcsAoLN— Connor O’Dell (@connorwitha_no) December 18, 2021
Royal Caribbean's health policy requires all adults to be vaxxed with at least two shots of Pfizer or Moderna or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The outbreak represents 0.78% of the 6,091 passengers and crew who left Miami on Dec. 11 and sailed to Caribbean ports St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Royal Caribbean's private island, CocoCay. The cruise ship returned to homeport on Dec. 18.
Cruise ships have been lauded as one of the safest vacations due to their strict health policies of only allowing vaxxed adults -- but as the vaccine efficacy wanes, that appears not to be the case.
Earlier this month, Norwegian Breakaway, owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, detected an outbreak of COVID despite a fully vaxxed ship.
Cruise Industry News reported the cruise ship industry had tightened its mask measures amid surging virus cases in the US.
What's becoming evident is that efficacy rates for vaccines are dropping. A recent study of the three primary COVID vaccines showed a 'dramatic' drop in efficacy over six months. So as cruise ship operators hit the high seas with only fully vaxxed passengers and crews that have waning defenses against the virus, one would suspect additional outbreaks on ships as new infections surge across the US.
So what are cruise ship operators supposed to do now? Only allow people who've had three boosters or more on vessels?