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The Cruise Industry Is Scrambling to Avoid Omicron

by Tom Drake

Royal Caribbean cancels four, Carnival shortens one and NCL cancels and pushes back several.

The devastating effects of Omicron are being felt throughout the world and most certainly throughout the cruise industry. The ability of this variant to transfer from person to person so quickly has made it impossible for cruise ships to sail an entire voyage without experiencing cases onboard. The result has been that cruise lines have had to cancel or shorten cruises and, in some cases, push back the restart of others.

The decision to cancel or delay is partly due to the reluctance of many destinations to allow cruise ships to dock if they even have one guest or crew in quarantine on the ship. Cruise lines have invested millions in upgrades to filtration systems, testing facilities, and vaccines for crew and staff. They have also established strict protocols to stop the spread, but over 90 ships have dealt with cases on board. Even though crew and guests are fully vaccinated, all guests must have a negative test to board the ship.

The situation has cruise lines scrambling.

On this past Friday Royal Caribbean announced the following cancellations:

The Oasis-class Symphony of the Seas will see its Jan. 8 cruise from Miami canceled, as well as its following two sailings, bringing it back in service on Jan. 29.

Royal Caribbean is also pulling the Jewel of the Seas from service for the next month, the company said, and should return on Feb. 20 from Miami. Its Jan. 9 departure is canceled as are subsequent sailings until Feb. 20.

The Serenade of the Seas is also being paused from Tampa and won't be back until April after a scheduled drydock. It was set to sail on Jan. 8.

According to the company, the Vision of the Seas was set to restart on Jan. 24 from Port Everglades, and now that won't be happening until March.

The Carnival Legend's January 9 sailing from Baltimore has gone from a two-week cruise to a 10-day sailing, with the line citing the Omicron variant in a letter sent to guests.

It seems inevitable that changes will occur daily until the current wave of positive tests reduces and the destinations living in fear of an outbreak on their island reopen their doors.

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