Europe recorded more than one million COVID-19 cases last week, an increase of 9% from the previous week and a reversal in a six-week decline. There are fears of new variants spreading around the continent. So it comes as no surprise that members of Royal Caribbean International's newest cruise ship, Odyssey of the Seas, recently tested positive for the virus, forcing the vessel to remain docked at Bremerhaven, Germany, reported NDR German news site.
Several German newspapers reported that "two employees on the Odyssey of the Seas" tested positive for the virus on Mar. 3 and were confirmed on Mar. 4 via PCR tests. The estimated 500 crew and workers have been quarantined on the ship.
According to NDR, the port medical service in Bremerhaven has ordered the vessel to remain in Bremerhaven until further notice.
The Meyer Werft shipyard already completed initial tests of the vessel in the North Sea. Further sea trials were supposed to be completed later this month, but NDR said it is "unclear when it can take off for the planned test drives." The shipyard is scheduled to deliver the Odyssey to Royal Caribbean next month ahead of his first sailing from Haifa, a northern Israeli port city, in May.
This comes as the so-called U.K. variant has spread across Europe. According to WHO experts, the new variant is 50% more transmissible than the virus that surged early last year.
While the global travel and tourism industry is preparing for a banner year as vaccine rollouts and unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus has led some economists to believe there is massive "pent up demand," it appears the virus pandemic continues to cause bottlenecks in the return to normalcy for specific industries.