2 Passengers Test Positive For COVID-19 On First North American Cruise In 15 Months

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Two passengers have tested positive for COVID-19 on board the first cruise to set sail in North America since the industry shut down in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The guests were sharing the same room on Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Millennium ship, which departed St. Maarten in the Caribbean on Saturday. Their positive diagnosis was confirmed on Thursday ahead of the vessel’s return to the port of Philipsburg.

“The individuals are asymptomatic and currently in isolation and being monitored by our medical team,” Royal Caribbean, Celebrity’s parent company, said in a statement. “We are conducting contact tracing, expediting testing for all close contacts and closely monitoring the situation.”

The infected pair will stay in St. Maarten until they test negative, a spokesperson for the cruise line told ABC News. The company said it will assist them on their eventual journey home. It did not reveal where they were from.

The seven-night cruise departed St. Maarten to much hype with around 600 passengers, about a third of the ship’s total capacity. All were said to have been fully vaccinated. The ship made stops in Aruba, Barbados and Curacoa before the virus that shut down the industry 15 months ago reasserted itself.

Celebrity CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo had hailed the sailing as “ a significant moment for our company, our industry.” Cruise ships were blamed for fueling the virus worldwide in the early days of the outbreak.

“There will be no masks or social distancing required because our occupancy is low,” Lutoff-Perlo said last week. “The guests are going to have plenty of space, with plenty of dining options and activities.”

The ship was sailing “with fully vaccinated crew and guests and following comprehensive protocols that align with our destination partners and exceed CDC guidelines to protect the health and safety of our guests,” the company said.

All crew and adult guests were required to be fully vaccinated and to test negative for the virus 72 hours before departure. Unvaccinated children only had to show proof of a negative test, reported CNN.

Celebrity’s Celebrity Edge is scheduled on June 26 to become the first ship to sail from a U.S. port since the pandemic shutdown, from Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

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